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502 

F7A'2 
I90L 



Presented to the 
LIBRARY of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

by 
The Estate of the late 

PROFESSOR A. S. P. VVOODHOUSE 

Head of the 

Department of English 

University College 

1944-1964 



CASSELL'S NATIONAL LIBRARY 



il 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

OF 

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 



Volumes of the Neiv Series of 

CASSELL'S NATIONAL LIBRARY. 

With Introductions by Professor Henrv Morley, L. F. Austin, 
A. D. Innes, Sir Henry Irving, Austin Dobson, A. T. Quill.r- 
Couch, Tiglie Hopkins, C. Lewis Hind, Neil Munro, G. K. 
Chesterton, Frank Mathew, Stuart J. ReiJ, William Archer, 
Herbert Paul, &c. 



1. — Silas Marner — George Eliot. 

2. — A Sentimental Journey — L Sterne. 

3.— Richard II.— Stiakespeare. 

4.— Browning's Poems— ;Selection). 

5. — On Heroes and Hero Worstiip— 
Carlyle. 

6.— A Christmas Carol and the Chimes 
—Charles Dickens. [smith. 

7.— The Vicar of Wakefield— Gold- 

8.— Macbeth— Shakespeare. [II.). 

9.— Evelyn's Diary— (Reign of Charles 
13.— Johnson's RasseUs. [Thackeray. 
ii.-The Four Georges - W. M. 
12.— Julius Caesar— Shakespeare. 
13.— Tennyson's Poems -(Selection). 
14.— The Merchant of Venice -Shake- 
speare, [tion'. 
IS.— Edgar Allan Foe's Tale;— (SeUc- 
16.— The Lady ol the Lake— Sir 

Walter Scott. 
17.— Emerson's Essays— (Selection,. 
18.— Hamlet— Shakespeare. 
19. — Goldsmith's Plays. 
20.— Burns's Poems— (Selection). 
21.— Much Ado about Nothing -Shake- 

22.— Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. 

23. — Sheridan's Plays: "The Rivals" 
and " The Schojl tor Scandal." 

24.— Macaulay's Laysof Ancient Rome. 

25.- Nathaniel Havfthorne's Tales. 

26.— Twelfth Night— Shakespeare. 

27. — Horace Walpole's Letters — (Selec- 

28.— Marmion— Sir Walter Scott, [tion;. 

29.— The Tempest— Shakespeare. 

30.— Southey s Lile of Nelson. 

31.— The Cricket on the Hearth- 
Charles Dickens. 

32.— Othello— Shakespeare. 

33.— Steele and Addison's Sir Roger 
de Coverley. [Shakespeare. 

34.— A Midsummer-Night's Dream — 

35.— Carlyle on Liurns and Scott. 

36.— Milton's Paradise Lost— I. 

37. — Milton's Paradise Lost — II. 

38.— Macaulay's Warren Hastings. 

39.— As You Lii<e It— Shakespeare. 

40.— Childe Harold's Pilgrimage— Lord 

41. — King Lear— Shakespeare. [Byron. 

42.— Hacons Essays. 






iMc 



49. -The Memorable Thoughts o( 
Socrates. 

50. -Burleigh. &c. — Macaulay. 

51.— Burke's Thoughts on the Present 
DisconteiKS. [Boccaccio. 

52.— Tales from the Decameron— 

53. — Henry V. — Shakespeare. 

54.— Essays and Tales— Addison. 

55.— Merry Wives of Windsor— Shake- 
speare. 

56.— Essays of Elia— Charles Lamb. 

57. — Areopagitica — Milton. 

53.— The Battle of Lile -CharlesDickens. 

59. —Voyages and TraveU — Marco Polo. 

60. —Grace Abounding — John Bunyan. 
61. -Th : Winters Ta:e-Shakespeare. 
62. — Hazlitt's Essays. 

6j. — Henry VII [.—Shakespeare. 
64.— Drydens Poems. 
65. — Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients. 
66. —Prometheus Unbound— Shelley. 
67.— Burke's Essays oa the Sublime 
and Beautiful. [speare. 

68.— The Comedy of Errors— Shake- 
69. —Wordsworth' s Poems— (Selection;. 

—Milton's Earlier Poems. 

— Love's Labour's Lost — Shakespeare, 

-Old Age and Friendship-Cicero. 

—The Sorrows of Werter-Goethe. 

— Coriolanus — Shakespeare. 

— Banquet of Plato— Shelley. 

—Battle of the Books— Sv?i(t. 

—Clive— Macaulay. 

—Henry IV'., Part I.— Shakespeare. 

—Henry IV., Part II —Shakespeare. 
80.— Steele's Essays and Tales. 
Bi.— The Lay of the Last Minstrel— Sir 
82.— Table Talk— Cowper. [W.Scott. 
83.-Richard 111.— Shakespeare. 
84.— Advancement of Learning— Bacon. 
85.— Maundeville's Travels. 
86.— Paradise Regained— Milton. 
87. — Locke's Civi. Gjverniiient. 
88.— Criticisms on Milton— Addison. 
89.— The Taming of the Shrew— Shake. 

9).— Carlyle's Essays on Goethe. 

91. — Two Gentlemen of Verona — 

Shakespeare. 
92. --Religio Medici — Sir Thomas 

Browne, M.D. [speare. 

9-5.- Mea-ure for Measure. — Shake- 
94. — Earl of Chatham — Macaulay. 
9;.— The Task— Cowpe'. 
96. — The Autobiography of Benjamin 

Franklin. 



44.— Romeo and Juliet— Shakespeare. 
45.— Complete Angler— Isaac ".Valton. 
46.— Hakluyt's Discovery of Muscovy. 
47.— Carlyle's Sartor Resartus. 
48.— King John— Shakespeare. 

" A new form of Messrs. Cassetl's ' National Library,' which is an 
improvement on the old in every way, and should be a great success. 
The binding in particular is both decorative and tasteful." — AthencEum. 

"The volumes are neatly bound in cloth, clearly printed, and the 
price a mere sixpence. . . . There are many series ot reprints of 
British Classics, but none more handy or more adequate than these 
excellent little volumes." — Academy. 

CASSELL & Company, Llmited, Lon t 



York & Melhpurne. 



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in 2008 witli funding from 

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Photo: Emery Halkc 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



From the Portrait by F. Baricolo 
in the National Portrait Gallery, 



THE 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

OF 

BENJAMIN 
FRANKLIN 



with an Introduction by 
HENRY MORLEY 



CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED 
LONDON. PARIS, NEW YORK 
AND MELBOURNE. MCMY 
All Rights Reserved 



F 



V n H :i J 



J.AN2519S5 



1043620 



INTRODUCTION. 



Benjamin Franklin's Autobiograpny ends with the 
year 1757, when he was sent to England as repre- 
sentative of the Assembly of Philadelphia. His ser- 
vices were found to be so valuable tliat he was 
appointed agent also for the States of Massachusetts, 
Maryland, and Georgia. The Royal Society of 
England not only made him one of its Fellows, in the 
manner described on page 180 of this volume, but also 
awarded to him a gold medal. He received honorary 
Doctorates from the Universities of Oxford, Edin- 
burgh, and St. Andrews ; and he was made an 
Associate of the Academy of Paris. Having returned 
to America in 1762, he was again sent to England to 
assist in labouring to avert war between the mother 
country and the transatlantic colonies. After strenu- 
ous efforts, that were made in vain, Franklin returned 
to Philadelphia in 1775, and was thenceforth active 
among those leaders of opinion who secared the 
Declaration of Independence of the thirteen United 
States on the 14th of July, 1776. Franklin then went 
to Paris as minister for the United States of America. 



4 INTEODUCTION. 

In Paris he secured tlie aid of France in the coming 
struggle. Wlien tlie struggle ended with the signing 
of a. treaty of peace that conceded independence, 
Franklin, then seventy-six years old, signed for the 
United States the treaty which he had assisted in 
negotiating. Three years later ho went back to 
America, where he took part in the rcAnsion of the 
Articles of Union. He died full of years and honoiirs 
on the 17th of April, 1790, at the age of eighty-four. 

After his death a general mourning for two months 
was ordered by Congress, as a tribute to the memory of 
one of the best and wisest of those who had assisted in 
the forming of the thirteen States into a nation. 

Franklin began to write this Autobiography in tho 
form of a letter to his son, tlie Governor of New 
Jersey, in 1771, when he was sixty-five years old, and 
a holiday-guest in Hampshire, at the house of his 
friend. Dr. Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph's. 
He had brought tho account down to tho time of his 
marriage when the holiday was over. After thirteen 
years another chapter was written, at Passy, in 1784. 
The rest was added in 1788, when Franklin was 
eiglity-two years old. 

H. M. 



THE 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



BElNlJAMm FRANKLIK 



CHAPTER I. 

I HAVE ever had a pleasure in obtaining any little anec- 
dotes of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I 
made among the remains of my relations when you were 
with me in England, and the journey I undertook for that 
purpose. Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to 
learn the circumstances of mij life, many of which you are 
imacquainted with ; and expecting the enjoyment of a few 
weeks' uninterrupted leisure, I sit down to write them. 
Besides, there are some other inducements that excite me 
to this undertaking. From the poverty and obscurity in 
which I was born, and in which I passed my earhest years, 
I have raised myself to a state of affluence and some degree 
of celebrity in the world. As constant good fortune has 
accompanied me even to an advanced period of life, my pos- 
terity will perhaps be desirous of learning the means which 
I employed, and which, thanks to Providence, so well 
succeeded with me. They may also deem them fit to be 
imitated, should any of them find themselves in similar 
circumstances. 



6 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

This good fortune, when I reflect on it (which is fre- 
quently the case), has induced me sometimes to say, that if 
it were left to my choice, I should have no objection to go 
over the same life from its beginning to the end ; requesting 
only the advantage authors have of correcting in a second 
edition the faults of the first. So would I also wish to 
change some incidents of it, for others 'more favourable. 
Notwithstanding, if this condition was denied, I should still 
accept the ofEer of recommencing the same Ufe. But as 
this repetition is not to be expected, that which resembles 
most living one's life over again, seems to be to recall all 
the circumstances of it, and, to render this remembrance 
more durable, to record them in writing. 

In thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination 
so natural to old men, of talking of themselves and their 
own actions ; and I shall indulge it without being tii-esome 
to those who, from respect to my age, might conceive them- 
selves obliged to listen to me, since they will be always free 
to read me or not. And, lastly (I may as well confess it, as 
the denial of it would be believed by nobody), I shall, per- 
haps, not a little gratify mj'^ own vanity. Indeed, I never 
heard or saw the introductory words, " Without vanity I 
may say," &c., but some vain thing immediately followed. 
Most people dislike vanity in others, >'-hatever share thej' 
have of it themselves ; but I give it fair quarter wherever I 
meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of 
good to the possessor, and to others who are »-ithin his 
sphere of action ; and therefore, in many cases, it would not 
be altogether absurd, if a man were .to thank God for his 
vanity among the other comforts of life. 

And now I speak of thanking God, I desire, with all 
humility, to acknowledge that I attribute the mentioned 
happiness of my past life to His di\'ine pro^'idence, which 
led me to the means I used, and gave the success. My 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 7 

belief of this induces me to hope, though I must not presume 
that the same goodness will still be exercised towards me in 
continuing that happiness, or enabling me to bear a fatal 
reverse, which I may experience as others have done : the 
complexion of my future fortune being known to Him only 
in whose power it is to blesa us, even in our afflictions. 

Some notes, which one of my uncles, who had the same 
curiosity in collecting family anecdotes, once put into my 
hands, furnished me with several particulars relative to our 
ancestors. From these notes I learned that they lived in 
the same \'illage, Ecton, in Northamptonshire, on a freehold 
of about thirty acres, for at least three hundred yeai-s, and 
how much longer could not be ascertained. 

This small estate would not have sufficed for their main- 
tenance without the business of a smith, which had continued 
in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son being 
always brought up to that emplojonent ; a custom which he 
and my father followed with regard to their eldest sons. 
When I searched the registers at Ecton, I found an account 
of their marriages and burials from the year 1555 only, as 
the registers kept did not commence previous thereto. I, 
however, learned from it that I was the youngest son of 
the youngest son for five generations back. ]\Iy grand- 
father, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Ecton till 
he was too old to continue his business, when he retired to 
Banbury, in Oxfordshire, to the house of his son John, 
with whom my father served an apprenticeship. There my 
uncle died, and lies buried. We saw his gravestone in 
1758. His eldest son Thomas lived in the house at Ecton, 
and left it, with the land, to his only daughter, who, with 
her husband, one Fisher, of Wellingborough, sold it to Mr. 
Isted, now lord of the manor there. My grandfather had 
f«ur sons, who grew up : viz., Thomas, John, Benjamin, 
and Josiah. Being at a distance from my papers, I will 



8 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

give you what account I can of them from memory ; and if 
my papers are not lost in my absence, you will find among 
them many more particulars. 

Thomas, my eldest uncle, was bred a smith under his 
father, but being ingenious, and encouraged in learning, as 
all his brothers were, by an Esquire Palmer, then the prin- 
cipal inhabitant of that parish, he qualified himself for the 
bar, and became a considerable man in the county ; was 
chief mover of all public-spirited enterprises for the county 
or town of Northampton, as well as of his own village, of 
which many instances were related of him ; and^ he was 
much taken notice of and patronised by Lord Halifax. He 
died in 1702, the 6th of January, four years, to a day, before 
I was born. The recital which some elderly persons 
made to us of his character, I remember struck you as 
something extraordinary, from its similarity with what 
you knew of me. " Had he died, " said you, " four years 
later, on the same day, one might have supposed a trans- 
migration." 

John, my next uncle, was bred a d}'er, I believe of wool. 
Benjamin was bred a silk dyer, serving an apprenticeship 
in London. He was an ingenious man. I remember, when 
I was a boy, he came to my father's in Boston, and lesided 
in the house with us for several years. There was always 
a particular affection between my father and him, and I 
was his godson. He lived to a great age. He left behind 
him two quarto volumes of manuscript, of his own poetry, 
consisting of fugitive pieces, addi-essed to his friends. He 
had invented a short-hand of his own, which he taught 
me ; but, not having practised it, I have now forgotten it 
He was very pious, and an assiduous attendant at the ser- 
mons of the best preachers, which he reduced to writing 
according to his method, and had thus collected several 
volumes of them. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 9 

He was also a good deal of a politician ; too much so, 
perhaps, for his station. There fell lately into my hands, 
in London, a collection he had made of all the principal 
political pamphlets relating to public affairs, from the year 
1641 to 1717. Many of the volumes are wanting, as ap- 
pears by their numbering ; but there still remain eight 
volumes in folio, and twenty in quarto and in octavo. A 
dealer in old books had met with them, and, knowing me 
by name, having bought books of him, he brought them to 
me. It would appear that my uncle must have left them 
here, when he went to America, which was about fifty years 
ago. I found several of his notes in the margins. His 
grandson, Samuel Franklin, is still living in Boston. 

Our humble family early embraced the reformed religion. 
Our forefathers continued Protestants through the reign of 
Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of persecution, 
on account of their zeal against popery. They had an Eng- 
lish Bible, and to conceal it and place it in safety, it was 
fastened open with tapes, under and within the cover of a 
joint stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read it 
to his family, he placed the joint stool on his knees, and then 
turned over the leaves under the tapes. One of the children 
stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor 
coming, who was an oflScer of the spiritual court. In that 
case the stool was txrrned down again upon its feet, when the 
Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote 
I had from uncle Benjamin. The family continued all of 
the Church of England till about the end of Charles the 
Second's reign, when some of the ministers that had been 
ousted for their non-conformity, holding conventicles in 
Northamptonshire, my uncle Benjamin and my father 
Josiah adhered to them, and so continued all their lives. 
The rest of the family remained with the Episcopal 
Chuich. „ 

A — 9 b 



10 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

My father mnrried young, and carried his wife, with three 
children, to New England, about 1685. The conventicles 
being at that time forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed 
in the meetings, some considerable men of his acquaint- 
ances determined to go to that country, and he was prevailed 
with to accompany them thither, where they expected to 
enjoy the exercise of their religion with freedom. By the 
same wife my father had four children more born then', and 
by a second, ten others, — in all seventeen ; of whom I re- 
member to have seen thirteen sitting together at his table ; 
who all grew up to years of maturity, and were married. I 
was the youngest son, and the youngest of all the children 
except two daughters. I was born in Boston, in New Eng- 
land. My mother, the second wife of my father, was Abiah 
Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of 
New England ; of whom honourable mention is made by 
Cotton Mather, in his ecclesiastical history of that coun- 
try, entitled Magnalla, Chrisfi Americana, as " a godly and 
learned Englishman," if I remember the words rightly. I 
was informed he wrote several small occasional works, but 
only one of them was printed, which I remember to have 
seen several years since. It was written in 1675. It was in 
familiar verse, according to the taste of the times and people ; 
and addressed to the government there. It asserts the liberty 
of conscience in behalf of the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and 
other sectaries, that had been persecuted. He attributes to 
this persecution the Indian Wars, and other calamities that 
had befallen the country; regarding them as so many 
judgments of God to punish so heinous an offence, and 
exhorting the repeal of those laws, so contrary to charity, 
This piece appeared to me as written with manly freedom, 
and a pleasing simplicity. The six lines I remember, but 
have forgotten the preceding ones of the stanza; the 
purport of them was, that his censures proceeded from 



BENJAMIN l'RANKL,IN. 11 

good mil, and therefore he would be known to be the 
author • — / 

" Because to he a libeller 
I hate it with my' heart 
From Sherbon Town* where now I dwel 

My name I do put here ; 
Without offence your real friend, 
It is Peter Folger." 

My elder brothers were all put apprentices to diii'erent 
trades. I was put to the grammar school at eight years of 
age ; my father intending to devote me, as the tithe of his 
sens, to the service of the Churclu My early readiness in 
learning to read, which must have been very early, as I do 
not remember when I could not read, and the opinion of all 
his friends that I shoirld certainly make a good scholar, 
encouraged him in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin, 
too, approved of it, and proposed to give me his short-hand 
volumes of sermons, to set up with, if 1 would learn his 
short-hand. I continued, however, at the grammar school 
rather less than a year, though in that time I had risen 
gradually from the middle of the class of that year to be at 
the head of the same class, and was removed into the next 
class, whence I was to be placed in the third at the end of 
the year. 

But my father, burdened with a numerous family, was 
unable, without inconvenience, to support the expense of a 
college education. Considering, moreover, as he said to one 
of his friends, in my presence, the little encouragement that 
line of life afforded to those educated for it, he gave up his 
first intentions, took me from the grammar school, and sent 
me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then 
famous man, Mr. George Brownwell. He was a skilful mas- 
ter, and successful in his profession, employing the mildest 

* In the island of Nantucket. 



12 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

and most encouraging methods. Under him I learned 
to write a good hand pretty soon ; but I failed entirely in 
arithmetic. At ten years old I was taken to help my father 
in his business, which was that of a tallow-chandler and soap- 
boiler ; a business to which he was not bred, but had assumed 
on his arrival in New England, because he found that his 
dyeing trade, being in little request, would not maintain his 
family. Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wicks for 
the candles, filling the moulds for cast candles, attending 
the shop, going of en-ands, &c. 

I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination to go to 
sea ; but my father declared against it. But, residing near 
the water, I was much in it and on it. I learned to swim 
well and to manage boats ; and, when embarked with other 
boys, I was commonly allowed to govern, especially in any 
case of difficulty; and upon other occasions I was generally the 
leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into scrapes, 
of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early 
projecting public spirit, though not then justly conducted. 
There was a salt marsh, which bounded part of the millpond 
on the edge of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish 
for minnows. By much trampling we had made it a mere 
quagmire. My proposal was to build a wharf there for us to 
stand upon, and I showed my comrades a large heap of 
stones which were intended for a new house near the marsh, 
and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly 
in the evening, when the workmen were gone home, I 
assembled a number of my playfellows, and we worked 
diligently like so many emmets, sometimes two or three to a 
stone, till we brought them all to make our little wharf. 
The next morning the workmen were surprised at missing 
the stones, which had formed our wharf. Inquiry was 
made after the authors of this transfer ; we were discovered, 
complained of. and corrected by our fathers ; and though I 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 13 

demonstrated the utility of our work, mine convinced 
me, that that which was not honest could not be truly- 
useful. 

I suppose you may like to know what kind of a man my 
father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a middle 
stature, well set, and very strong. He could draw prettily, 
and was skilled a little in music. His voice was sonorous 
and agreeable, so that when he played on his violin and sung 
withal, as he was accustomed to do after the business of the 
day was over, it was extremely agreeable to hear. He had 
some knowledge of mechanics, and on occasion was very 
handy with other tradesmen's tools. But his great excellence 
was his sound understanding, and his solid judgment in 
prudential matters, both in private and public affairs. It is 
true he was never [employed in the latter, the numerous 
family he had to educate, and the straitness of his circum- 
stanceg, keeping him close to his trade, but I remember well 
his being frequently visited by leading men, who consulted 
him for his opinion in public affairs, and those of the church 
he belonged to ; and who showed a great respect for his 
judgment and advice. 

He was also much consulted by private persons about their 
affairs, when any difficulty occurred, and frequently chosen 
an arbitrator between contending parties. At his table he 
liked to have, as often as he could, some sensible friend or 
neighbour to converse with, and always took care to start 
some ingenious or useful topic for discourse, which might 
tend to improve the minds of his childi-en. By this means 
he turned our attention to what was good, just, and prudent, 
in the conduct of life, and little or no notice was ever taken 
of what related to the victuals on the table ; whether it was 
well or ill dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad 
flavour, preferable or inferior to this or that other thing of 
the kind ; so that I was brought up in such a perfect in- 



14 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

attention to those matters as to be quite indifferent what 
kind of food was set before me. Indeed, I am so unobservant 
of it, that to this day I can scarce tell a few hours after 
dinner of what dishes it consisted. This has been a great 
convenience to me in travelling, where my companions have 
been sometimes very unhappy for want of a suitable grati- 
fication of their more delicate, because better instructed, 
tastes and appetites. 

My mother had likewise an excellent constitution ; she 
suckled aU her ten children. I never knew either my 
father or mother to have any sickness but that of which 
they died ; he at eighty -nine, and she at eighty-five years 
of age. They lie buried together at Boston, where I some 
years since placed a marble over their grave, with this 
inscription : 

JOSIAH' rSANKLIN 

and 

ABIAH his wife, 

Lie here interred. 

They lived lovingly together in wedlock. 

Fifty -five years; 

And without an estate or any gainful employment 

By constant labour, and honest industry, 

(With God's blessing,) 

Maintained ,a large family comfortably ; 

And brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildran 

Keputably. 

From this instance, Header, 

Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling. 

And distriist not Providence. 

He was a pious and prudent man. 

She a discreet and virtuous woman 

Their youngest son, 

In filial regard to their memory, 

Phxces this stone. 

J. F. born 1655 ; died 1744. ^t. 89 

A. F. bom 1667.; died 1752. ^t. 85 



BENJAMIN FBANKLIN. 15 

By my rambling digressions, I perceive myself to be 
grown old. I used to write more methodically. But one 
does not dress for private company, as for a public ball. 
Perhaps it is only negligence. 

To return : I continued thus employed in my father's 
business for two years, that is, till I was twelve years old ; 
and my brother John, who was bred to that business, 
having left my father, married, and set up for himself at 
Khode Island, there was every appearance that I was 
destined to supply his place, and become a tallow-chandler. 
But my dislike to the trade continuing, my father had 
apprehensions that, if he did not put me to one more 
agreeable, I should break loose and go to sea, as my 
brother Josiah had done, to his great vexation. In conse- 
quence, he took me to walk with him and see joiaers, brick- 
layers, turners, braziers, &c., at their work, that he might 
observe my inclination, and endeavour to fix it on some 
trade or profession that would keep me on land. It has 
ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen 
handle their tools. And it has been often useful to me, 
to have learned so much by it, as to be able to do some 
trifling jobs in the house, when a workman was not at 
hand, and to construct little machines for my experiments, 
at the moment when the intention of making these was 
warm in my mind. My father determined at last for the 
cutler's trade, and placed me for some days on trial with 
Samuel, son to my uncle Benjamin, who was bred to that 
trade in London, and had just established himself in 
Boston. But the sum he exacted as a fee for my ap- 
prenticeship displeased my father, and I was taken home 
again. 

From my infancy I was passionately fond of reading, 
and aU the money that came into my hands was laid out in 
the purchasing of books. I was very fond of voyages. 



16 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

My first acquisition was Bunyan's works in separate little 
volumes ; I afterwards sold them to enable me to buy It. 
Burton's Historical Collections. They were small chapmen's 
books,* and cheap ; forty volumes in all. My father's little 
library consisted chiefly of books in polemic divinity, 
most of which I read. I have often regretted that, at a 
time when I had such a thirst for knowledge, more proper 
books had not fallen in my way, since it was resolved I 
should not be bred to divinity. There was among them 
Plutarch's lives, which I read abundantly, and I still think 
that time spent to great advantage. There was also a 
book of Defoe's, called An Essay on Projects, and another of 
Dr. Mather's, called An Essay to do Good, which perhaps 
gave me a turn of thinking, that had an influence on some 
of the principal future events of my life. 

This bookish inclination at length determined my father 
to make me a printer, though he had already one son, 
James, of that profession. In 1717 my brother James 
retui-ned from England with a press and letters, to set up 
his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that 
of my father, but still had a hankering for the sea. To 
prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my 
father was impatient to have me bound to my brother. I 
stood out some time, but at last was persuaded, and signed 
the indenture, when I was yet but twelve yeai-s old. I 
was to serve an apprenticeship till I was twenty-one years 
of age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages 
during the last year. In a little time I made a great 
progress in the business, and became a useful hand to my 

• Commonly called " chap-books," a term applied to populax 
story books, which in former days used to be hawked about by 
chapmen, such as Tom Hickathrift, Jack the Giant Killer, &c. 
Burton's Histories were of rather a better class, and comprised 
" The English Hero, or, Sir Francis Drake Eevived_; " " Admirable 
Curiosities," &c. &c. 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 17 

brother. I now had access to better books. An ac- 
quaintance with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me 
sometimes to borrow a small one, which I was careful to 
return soon, and clean. Often I sat up in my chamber 
reading the greatest part of the night, when the book was 
borrowed in the evening, and to be returned in the morning, 
lest it should be found missing. 

After some time a merchant, an ingenious, sensible man, 
Mr. Matthew Adams, who had a pretty collection of books, 
frequented our printing-office, took notice of me, and 
invited me to see his hbrary, and very kindly proposed to 
lend me such books as I chose to read. I now took a 
strong inclination for poetry, and wrote some little pieces. 
My brother, supposing it might turn to account, en- 
couraged me, and induced me to compose two occasional 
ballads. One was called The Light-House Tragedy, and con- 
tained an account of the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake 
with his two daughters ; the other was a sailor's song, on 
the taking of the famous Teach, or Blaclcbearcl, the pirate. 
They were wretched stuff, in street-ballad style ; and when 
they were printed, my brother sent me about the to-wn to sell 
them. The first sold prodigiously, the event being recent, 
and having made a great noise. This success flattered my 
vanity ; but my father discouraged me by criticising my 
performances, and telling me verse-makers were generally 
beggars. Thus I escaped being a poet, and probably a 
very bad one : but, as prose writing has been of great 
use to me in the course of my life, and was a principal 
means of my advancement, I shall teU you how in such a 
situation I acquired what little ability I may be supposed 
to have in that way. 

There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins 
by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We 
sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument. 



18 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

and very desirous of confuting one another; which dis- 
putatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad 
habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in 
company, by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it 
into practice ; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the 
conversation, it is productive of disgusts, and perhaps 
enmities, with those who may have occasion for friendship. 
I had caught this by reading my father's books of dispute 
on rehgion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, 
seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and gene- 
rally men of all sorts who have been bred at Edinburgh. 

A question was once, somehow or other, started between 
Collins and me, on the propriety of educating the female 
sex in learning, and their abilities for study. He was of 
opinion that it was improper, and that they were naturally 
unequal to it. I took the contrary side, perhaps a little for 
dispute's sake. He was naturally more eloquent, having a 
greater plenty of words, and sometimes,'a8 I thought, I wag 
vanquished more by his fluency than by the strength of his 
reasons. As we parted without settling the point, and 
were not to see one another again for some time, I sat down 
to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair and 
sent to him. He answered and I replied. Three or four 
letters on a side had passed, when my father happened to 
find my papers, and read them. Without entering into the 
subject in dispute, he took occasion to talk to me about 
my manner of wi-iting ; observed that though I had the 
advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling and pointing 
(which he attributed to the printing-house), I fell far short 
in elegance of expression, in method, and in perspicuity, of 
V hich he convinced me by several instances. I saw the 
justice of his remarks, and thence grew more attentive to 
my manner of writing, and determined to endeavour to im- 
prove my style. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 19 

About this time I met with an odd volume of the Specta- 
tor. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, 
read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I 
thought the wi-iting excellent, and wished if possible to 
imitate it. With that view I took some of the papers, and 
making short hints of the sentiments in each sentence, laid 
them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, 
tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted 
sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed 
before, in any suitable words that should occm- to me. 
Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered 
some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I 
wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and 
using them, which I thought I should have acquired before 
that time, if I had gone on making verses; since the 
continual search for words of the same import, but of 
different length to suit the measui-e, or of different sound 
for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant neces- 
sity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix 
that variety in my mind, and make me master of it. 
Therefore I took some of the tales in the Spectator, and 
turned them into verse ; and, after a time, when T had 
pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. 

I also sometimes jumbled my collection of hints into 
confusion, and after some weeks endeavoured to reduce 
them into the best order before 1 began to form the full 
sentences and complete the subject. This was to teach me 
method in the arrangement of the thoughts. By comparing 
my work with the original, I discovered many faults, and 
corrected them ; but I sometimes had the pleasure to fancy 
that, in certain particulars of small consequence, I had been 
fortunate enough to improve the method or the language, 
and this encouraged me to think that I might in time come 
to be a tolerable English wi-iter. of which I was extremely 



20 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

ambitious. The time I allotted for writing exercises, and 
for reading, was at night, or before work began in the 
morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the 
printing-house, avoiding as much as I could the constant 
attendance at public worship which my father used to 
exact of me when I was under his care, and which I still 
continued to consider a duty, though I could not afPord time 
to practise it. 

When about sixteen years of age, I happened to meet 
with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vege- 
table diet. I determined to go into it. My brother, being 
yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and 
his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh 
occasioned an inconvenience, and I was frequently chid for 
my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's 
manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling 
potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding and a few others, 
and then proposed to my brother that if he would give me 
weekly half the money he paid for my board, I would board 
myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found 
that I could save half what he paid me. This was an 
additional fund for buying of books ; but I had another 
advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the 
printing-house to their meals, I remained there alone, and 
despatching presently my light repast (which was often no 
more than a biscuit, or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins, 
or a tart from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water), had 
the rest of the time, tUl their return, for study : in which I 
made .the greater progress from that greater clearness of 
head and quicker apprehension which generally attend tem- 
perance in eating and drinking. Now it was that (being 
on some occasion made ashamed of my ignorance in figures, 
which I had twice failed learning when at school) I took 
Cocker's book on Arithmetic, and went through the whole 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 21 

by myself with the greatest ease. I also read Seller's and 
Sturny's book on Navigation, which made me acquainted 
with the little geometry it contains ; but I never proceeded 
far in that science. I read about this time Locke On Human 
Understanding, and The Art of Thinking, by Messrs. de Port- 
Royal. 

While I was intent on improving my language, I met 
with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), 
having at the end of it two little sketches on the Arts of 
Ehetoric and Logic, the latter finishing with a dispute in 
the Socratic method ; and soon after I procured Xenophon's 
Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many 
examples of the same method. I was charmed with it, 
adopted it, dropped my abrupt contradictions and positive 
argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer. And 
being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, made a 
doubter, as I already was in many points of our religious 
doctrines, I found this method the safest for myself and 
very embarrassing to those against whom I used it ; there- 
fore 1 took delight in it, practised it continually, and grew 
very artful and expert in drawing people even of superior 
knowledge into concessions, the consequences of which they 
did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which 
they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining vic- 
tories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved. 

I continued this method some few years, but gradually 
left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in 
terms of modest diffidence, never using, when I advance any- 
thing that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, 
undouhtedhj , or any others that give the air of positiveness 
to an opinion ; but rather say I conceive, or apprehend, a 
thing to be so-and-so ; It appears to me, or I should not think 
it, so-or-so, for such-and-such reasons ; ov, I imagine it to be 
so ; or. It is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe. 



22 BENJAMIN FKANXLIN. 

has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion 
to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures 
that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting. 
And as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be 
informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning and 
sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by 
a positive assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, 
tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those 
purposes for which speech was given to us. In fact, if you 
wish to instruct others, a positive dogmatical manner in 
advancing your sentiments may occasion opposition, and 
prevent a candid attention. If you desire instruction and 
improvement from others, you should not at the same time 
express yourself fixed in your present opinions. Modest 
and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will leave 
you undisturbed in the possession of your errors. In adopt- 
ing such a manner, you can seldom expect to please your 
hearers, or obtain the concurrence you desire. Pope 
judiciously observes, 

" Men must be taught as if you taught them not. 
And things unknown proposed as things forgot. 
He also recommends it to us, 

" To speak, though siu-e, with seeming diffidence." 
And he might have joined with this line that which he has 
coupled with another, I think, less properly, 

" For want of modesty is want of Jsense." 

If you ask. Why less properly P I must repeat the lines, 

" Immodest words admit of no defence. 
For want of modesty is want of sense.' 

Now, is not the want of sense, where a man is so unfortunate 
as to want it, some apology for his want of modesty ? And 
would not the lines stand more justly thus ? — 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 23 

" Immodest words admit hut this defcnco; 
That want of modesty is want of sense." 

This, however, I should submit to better judgments. 

My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a news- 
paper. It was the second that appeared in America, and 
was called the N'ew England Courant. The only one before 
it was the Boston Neivs- Letter. I remember his being dis- 
suaded by some of his friends from the imdertaking, as not 
likely to succeed, one newspaper being in. their judgment 
enough for America. At this time, 1771, there are not less 
than five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the 
undertaking. I was employed to carry the papers to the 
customers, after having worked in composing the types and 
printing ofE the sheets. 

He had some ingenious men among his friends, who 
amused themselves by writing little pieces for this paper, 
which gained it credit and made it more in demand, and 
these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their conversa- 
tions, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were 
received with, I was excited to try my hand among them. 
But, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother 
would object to printing anything of mine in his paper, if 
he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, 
and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it at night imder 
the door of the printing-house. It was found in the 
morning, and communicated to his writing friends when 
they called in as usual. They read it, commented on it in 
my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it 
met with their approbation, and that, in their different 
guesses at the author, none were named but men of some 
character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose 
that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that they were 
not really so very good as I then believed them to be. 
Encouraged, however, by this attemot, I wrote and sent in 



24 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the same way to the press several other pieces, that were 
equally approved ; and I kept my secret till all my fund 
of sense for such performances was exhausted, and then 
discovered it, when I hegan to he considered a little more 
hy my hrother's acquaintance. 

However, that did not quite please him, as he thought it 
tended to make me too vain. This might he one occasion 
of the differences we began to have about this time. Though 
a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as 
his apprentice, and accordingly expected the same services 
from me as he would fi-om another, while I thought he 
degraded me too much in some he required of me, who 
from a brother expected more indulgence. Our disputes 
were often brought before our father, and I fancy 1; was 
either generally in the ;right, or else a better pleader, 
because the judgment was generally in my favour. But 
my brother was passionate, and had often beaten me, which 
I took extremely amiss ; and, thinking my apprenticeship 
very tedious, I was continual!)^ wishing for some oppor- 
tunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner 
unexpected. Perhaps this harsh and tyi-annical treatment 
of me might be a means of impressing me with the aversion 
to arbitrary power, that has stuck to me throuffh my whole 
life. 

One of the pieces in our newspaper on some political 
point, which I have now forgotten, gave offence to the 
Assembly. He was taken up, eensui-ed, and imprisoned for 
a month by the Speaker's warrant, I suppose because he 
would not discover the author. I, too, was taken up and 
examined before the Council ; but, though I did not give 
them any satisfaction, they contented themselves with ad- 
monishing me, and dismissed me, considering me perhaps 
as an apprentice, who was bound to keep his master's seci'cts. 
During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good 



BEXJAMIN FRANKLIN. 25 

deal, notwithstanding our private difEerences, I had the man- 
agement of the paper ; and I made bold to give our rulers 
some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly, while 
others began to consider me in an unfavourable light, as a 
youth that had a turn for libelling and satire. 

My brother's discharge was accompanied with an order, 
and a very odd one, that " James Franklin should no longer 
print the newspaper called The New Em/ land Courant." 
On a consultation held in our printing-office amongst his 
friends, what he should do in this conjuncture, it was pro- 
posed to elude the order by changing the name of the 
paper. But my brother, seeing inconveniences in this, 
came to a conclusion, as a better way, to let the paper in 
future be printed in the name of Benjamin Franklin ; and 
in order to avoid the censure of the Assembly, that might 
fall on him, as still printing it by his apprentice, he con- 
trived and consented that my old indenture should be 
returned to me with a discharge on the back of it, to show 
in case of necessity ; and, in order to secm-e to him the 
benefit of my service, I should sign new indentures for the 
remainder of my time, which were to be kept private, 
A very flimsy scheme it was ; however, it was immediately 
executed, and the paper was printed accordingly, under my 
name, for several months. 

At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother 
and me, I took upon mo to assert my freedom ; presuming 
that he would not venture to produce the new indentui'es. 
It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I 
therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life ; but the 
unfairness of it weighed little with me when under the 
impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too 
often urged him to bestow upon me. Though he was 
otherwise not an ill-natured man ; perhaps I was too saucy 
and provoking. 



26 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

When he to and I would leave him, he took care to 
prevent my getting employment in any other printing- 
house of the town, by going round and speaking to every 
master, who accordingly refused to give me work. I then 
thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where 
there was a printer. And I was rather inclined to leave 
Boston when I reflected that I had already made myself a 
little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the 
arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in my brother's 
case, it was likely I might, if I stayed, soon bring myself 
into scrapes; and further, that my indiscreet disputations 
about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by 
good people, as an infidel and atheist. I concluded, there- 
fore, to remove to New York ; but my father now siding 
with my brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go 
openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend 
Collins, therefore, undertook to manage my flight. He 
agreed with the captain of a New York sloop to take me, 
under pretence of my being a young man of his acquaintance 
that had an intrigue with a girl of bad character, whose 
parents would compel me to marry her, and that I could 
neither appear nor come away publicly. I sold my books to 
raise a little money, was taken on board the sloop privately, 
had a fair wind, and in three days found myself at New 
York, near three hvmdred miles from my home, at the age 
of seventeen (October, 1723), without the least recom- 
mendation, or knowledge of any person in the place, and 
very little money in my pocket. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 27 



CHAPTER n. 



The inclination I had had for the sea was hy this time done 
away, or I might now have gratified it. But having another 
profession, and conceiving myseK a pretty good workman, I 
offered my services to a printer of the place, old Mr. William 
Bradford, who had been the firat printer in Pennsylvania, 
hut had removed thence, in consequence of a quarrel with 
the governor, George Keith. He could give me no employ- 
ment, having little to do, and hands enough already ; but he 
said, " My son at Philadelphia has lately lost his principal 
hand, Aquila Rose, by death ; if you go thither I believe he 
maj^ employ you." Philadelphia was one hundred miles 
further ; I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving 
my chest and things to follow me round by sea. 

In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore our 
rotten sails to pieces, preventing our getting into the Kill, 
and drove us upon Long Island. In our way, a drunken 
Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when 
he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock 
pate, and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His 
ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking 
first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry 
for him. It proved to be my old favourite author, Bunyan's 
FUgriiri's Fror/ress, in Dutch, finely printed on good paper, 
copper cuts, a dress better than I had ever seen it wear in 
its own language. I have since found that it has been trans- 
lated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it 
has been more generally read than any other book, except 
perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know 
of who mixed narration and dialogue : a method of writing 
very engaging to the reader, who in the most interesting 



28 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 

parts finds himself, as it were, admitted into the company 
and present at the conversation. Defoe has imitated him 
successfully in his Bobinson Crusoe, in his Moll Flanders, 
and other pieces ; and Richardson has done the same in his 
Famela, &c. 

On approaching the island, we found it was in a place 
where there could be no landing, there being a gi-eat surge 
on the stony beach. So we dropped anchor, and swung out 
our cable towards the shore. Some people came down to 
the shore, and hallooed to us, as we did to them ; but the 
wind was so high and the surge so loud that we could not 
understand each other. There were some small boats 
near the shore, and we made signs, and called to them to 
fetch us ; but they either did not comprehend us'or it was 
impracticable, so they went off. Night approaching, we had 
no remedy but to have patience till the wind abated ; and in 
the meantime the boatmen and myself concluded to sleep, 
if we could ; and so we crowded into the hatches, where we 
joined the Dutchman, who was still wet, and the spray, 
breaking over the head of oui- boat, leaked through to us, 
so that we were soon almost as wet as he. In this man- 
ner we lay all night, with very little rest ; but the wind 
abating the next day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before 
night, having been thirty hours on the water, without 
victuals, or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum ; the water 
we sailed on being salt. 

In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went to 
bed; but having read somewhere that cold water drunk 
plentifully was good for a fever, I followed the prescription, 
and sweat plentifully most of the night. My fever left me, 
and in the morning, crossing the ferry, I proceeded on my 
journey on foot, having fifty miles to go to Burlington, 
where I was told I should find boats that would cany me 
the rest of the way to Philadelphia. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 29 

Tt rained very hard all the day ; I was thoroughly soaked, 
and hy noon a good deal tired ; so I stopped at a poor inn, 
where I stayed all night, beginning now to wish I had never 
left home. I made so miserable a figure, too, that I found, 
by the questions asked me, I was suspected to be some run- 
away indentured servant, and in danger of being taken up on 
that suspicion. However, I proceeded next day, and got in 
the evening to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burling- 
ton, kept by one Dr. Brown. He entered into conversation 
with me while I took some refreshment, and, finding I had 
read a little, became very obliging and friendiy. Our ac- 
quaintance continued all the rest of his life. He had been, 
I,imagine, an ambulatory quack doctor, for there was no town 
in England, nor any country in Europe, of which he could 
not give a verj' particular account. He had some letters, 
and was ingenious, but ho was an infidel, and wickedly un- 
dertook, some years after, to turn the Bible into doggrel 
verse, as Cotton had formerly done with Virgil. By this 
means he set many facts in a ridiculous light, and might 
have done mischief with weak minds, if his work had been 
published ; but it never was. 

At his house I lay that night, and arrived the next morn- 
ing at Burlington ; but had the mortification to find that 
the regular boats were gone a little before, and no other 
expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday. 
Wherefore I retiu-ned to an old woman in the town, of 
whom I had bought some gingerbread to eat on the water, 
and asked her advice. She proposed to lodge me tiU a 
passage by some other boat occurred. I accepted her offer, 
being much fatigued by travelling on foot. Understanding 
I was a printer, she would have had me remain in that town 
and follow my business, being ignorant what stock was 
necessary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave 
mc a dinner of ox-cheek with great good-will, accepting 



dU BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

only of a pot of ale in return ; and I thought myseU fixed 
till Tuesday should come. However, walking in the evening 
by the side of the river, a boat came by, which I found was 
going towards Philadelphia with sc^■eral people in her. 
They took me in, and as there was no v'ind, we rowed all 
the way ; and about midnight, not having yet seen the city, 
some of the company were confident we must have passed it, 
and would row no further ; the othera knew not where we 
were, so we put towards the shore, got into a creek, landed 
near an old fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, 
the night being cold, in October, and there we remained till 
daylight. Then one of the company knew the place to be 
Cooper's Creek, a little above Philadelphia, which we saw 
as soon as we got out of the creek, and arrived there about 
eight or nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and landed at 
IMai'ket Street wharf. 

I have been the more particular in this description of my 
journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, 
that you may in your mind compare such unlikely begin- 
nings with the figure I have since made there. I was in 
my working dress, my best clothes coming round by sea. I 
was dirty, from my being so long in the boat. My pockets 
were stuffed out with shu-ts and stockings, and I knew no 
one, nor where to look for lodging. Fatigued with walk- 
ing, rowing, and the want of sleep, I was very hungry ; 
and my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and 
about a shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boat- 
men for my passage. At first they refused it, on account 
of my having rowed ; but I insisted on their taking it. 
Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money 
than when he has plenty : perhaps to prevent his being 
thought to have but little. 

i walked towards the top of the street, gazing about till 
near Market Street, where I met a boy with bread. I had 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 31 

often made a meal of dry bread, and, inquiring where he 
had bought it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed 
me to. I asked for biscuits, meaning such as we had at 
Boston ; that sort, it seems, was not made in Philadelphia. 
I then asked for a threepenny loaf, and was told they had 
none. Not knowing the different prices, nor the names of 
the different sorts of bread, I told him to give me three- 
penny-worth of any sort. He gave me accordingly three 
great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took 
it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off with a 
roll imder each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up 
Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door 
of Mr. Read, my future wife's father ; when she, standing 
at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, 
a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned, 
and went down Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, 
eating my roll all the way ; and, coming round, found 
myself again at Market Street wharf, near the boat I came 
in, to which I went for a draught of the river water ; and 
being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a 
woman and her child that came down the river in the boat 
with us, and were waiting to go farther. 

Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which, by 
this time, had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all 
walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was 
led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers, near the 
market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round 
a while, and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy 
through labour and want of rest the preceding night, I fell 
fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, 
when some one was kind enough to rouse me. This, there- 
fore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Phila- 
delphia. 

I then walked down towards the river, and, looking in 



32 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the faces of every one, I met a young Quaker man whose 
countenance pleased me, and, accosting him, requested he 
would tell me where a stranger could get a lodging. We 
were then near the sign of the Three IMariners. " Here," 
said he, " is a house where they receive strangers, but it is 
not a reputable one ; if thee wilt walk with me, I'll show 
thee a better one," and he conducted me to the CVooked 
Billet, in Water Street. There I got a dinner ; and while 
I was eating, several questions were asked me. as, from my 
youth and appearance, I was suspected of being a runaway. 

After dinner, my host having shown me to a bed, I laid 
myself on it without undressing, and slept till six in the 
evening, when I was called to supper. I went to bed again 
very early, and slept very soundly till next morning. Then 
I dressed myself as neat as I could, and went to Andrew 
Bradford, the printer's. I found in the shop the old man 
his father, whom I had seen at New York, and who, travel- 
ling on horseback, had got to Philadelphia before me. He 
introduced me to his son, who received me civilly, gave me 
a breakfast, but told me he did not at present want a hand, 
being lately supplied with one; but there was another 
printer in town, lately set up, one Kcimer, who perhaps 
might employ me ; if not, I should be welcome to lodge at 
his house, and he would give me a little work to do now and 
then, till fuller business should offer. 

The old gentleman said he would go with me to the new 
printer ; and when we found him, " Neighbour," said Brad- 
ford, " I have brought to see you a young man of your 
business: perhaps you may want such a one." He asked 
me a few questions, put a composing-stick in my hand to 
see how I worked, and then said he would employ me soon, 
though he had just then nothing for me to do. And taking 
old Bradford, whom he had never seen before, to be one of 
the townspeople that had a good-will for him, entered into 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



33 



a conversation ou his present undertaking and prospects ; 
while Bradford, not disuovering that he was the other 
printer's father, on Keimer's saying he expected soon to get 
the greatest part of the business into his own handis, drew 
him on, by artful questions, and starting little doubts, to 
explain all his views, what influence he relied on, and in 
what manner he intended to proceed. I, who stood by and 
heard all, saw immediately that one was a crafty old 
sophister, and the other a true novice. Bradford left mo 
with Keimer, who was greatly surprised when I told him 
who the old man was. 

The printing-house, I found, consisted of an old damaged 
press, and a small, worn-out fount of English types, which 
ho was using himself, composing an Elcgi/ on Aquila liose, 
before mentioned; an ingenious young man, of excellent 
character, much respected in th« town, secretary to the 
Assembly, and a pretty poet. Keimer made verses too, but 
very indifferently. He could not be said to rvriie them, for 
his method was to compose them in the types directly out 
of his head. There being no copy, but one pair of cases, 
and the Eleijy probably requiring all the letter, no one could 
help him. 1 endeavoured to put his press (which ho had 
not yet used, and of which he understood nothing) into 
order to be worked with ; and, promising to come and print 
off his Eh-(j!i as soon as he should have got it ready, I 
retm-ncd to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for 
the present, and there I lodged and dieted. A few days 
after, Keimer sent for me to print ofl: the Ekgii. And now 
he had got another pair of cases, and a pamphlet to reprint, 
on which he set me to work. 

These two printa-s I found poorly qualified for their busi- 
ness. Bradford had not been bred to it, and was very illite- 
rate ; and Keimer, though something of a scholar, was a 
mere compositor, knowing nothing of press-work. He had 
B--9G 



34 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

been one of the French prophets, and could act their enthu- 
siastic agitations. At this time he did not profess any- 
particular religion, hut something of all on occasion ; was 
very ignorant of the world, and had, as I afterwards found, 
a good deal of the Imavc in his composition. He did not 
like my lodging at Bradford's while I worked with him. 
He had a house, indeed, hut without furniture, so ho could 
not lodge me ; but he got me] a lodging at Mr. Reads, 
before mentioned, who was the owner of his house ; and 
my chest of clothes being come by this time, I made rather 
a more respectable appearance in the eyes of Miss Read than 
I had done when she first happened to see me eating my roU 
in the street. 

I began now to have some acquaintance among the young 
people of the town that were lovers of reading, with whom 
I spent my evenings very pleasantly, and gained money by 
my industrj^ and frugality. I lived very contented, and 
forgot Boston as much as I could, and did not wish 
to be known where I resided except to my friend Collins, 
who was in the secret, and kept it faithfuUjr. At length, 
however, an incident happened that occasioned my return 
home much sooner than I had intended. I had a brother- 
in-law, Robert Holmes, master of a sloop that traded between 
Boston and Delaware. He being at Newcastle, forty miles 
below Philadelphia, and hearing of me, wrote me a letter 
mentioning the grief of my relations and friends in Boston 
at my abrupt departure, assuring me of their good-will to 
me, and that everything would be accommodated to my 
mind if I would return ; to which he entreated me earnestly. 
I wrote an answer to his letter, thanked him for his advice, 
but stated my reasons for quitting Boston so fully and in 
such a light as to convince him that I was not so much in 
the wrong as he had apprehended. 

Sir WiUiam Keith, Governor of the province, was then at 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 35 

Kewwistle, and Captain Holmes, happening to be in company 
with him when my letter came to hand, spoke to him of me, 
and showed him the letter. The Governor read it, and 
.seemed surprised when he was told my age. He said I 
appeared a young man of promising parts, and therefore 
should be encouraged ; the printers at Philadelphia were 
wretched ones, and if I would set up there, he made no 
doubt I should succeed ; for his part he would procure me the 
public business, and do me every other service in his power. 
This my brother-in-law Holmes afterwards told me in Bos- 
ton, but I knew as yet nothing of it ; when one day Keimer 
and I, being at work together near the window, we saw the 
Governor and another gentleman (who proved to be Colonel 
French, of Newcastle, in the pro\unce of Delaware), finely 
dressed, come directly across the street to our house, and 
heard them at the door. 

Keimer ran down immediately, thinking it a visit to him ; 
but the Governor inquired for me, came up, and with a con- 
descension and politeness I had been quite unused to, made 
him many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, 
blamed me kindly for not having made myself Imown to 
him when I first came to the place, and would have me 
away with him to the tavern, where he was going with 
Colonel French to taste, as he said, some excellent ^Vladeira. 
I was not a little surprised, and Keimer stared with astonish- 
ment. I went, however, with the Governor and Colonel 
French to a tavern at the corner of Third Street, and over 
the Madeira he proposed my setting up my business. He 
stated the probabilities of my success, and both he and 
Colonel French assured me I should have their interest and 
influence to obtain for me the public business of both govern- 
ments. And as I expressed doubts that my father would 
assist me in it, Sir William said he would give me a letter 
to him, in which he would set forth the advantages, and he 



36 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

did not doubt he should determine him to comply. So it was 
concluded I should return to Boston by the first vessel, with 
the Governor's letter, to my father. In the meantime it 
was to be kept a secret, and I went on working with Koimer 
as usual. The Governor sent for me now and then to dine 
with him, which I considered a great honour, more particu- 
larly as he conversed with me in a most affable, familiar, and 
friendly manner. 

About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel otiered for Bos- 
ton. I took leave of Keiiner, as going to sec my friends. The 
(Governor gave me an ample letter, saying many flattering 
things of me to my father, and strongly recommending the 
project of my setting up at Philadelphia as a thing that 
would make ray fortune. We struck on a shoal in going 
down the bay and sprung a leak ; we had a blustering time 
at sea, and were obliged to pump almost continuallj', at 
which I took my turn. We arrived safe, however, at Boston in 
about a fortnight. I had been absent seven months, and my 
friends had heard nothing of me ; for my brother James was 
not yet returned, and had not written about me. Mj- unex- 
pected appearance surprised the family ; all were, however, 
very glad to sec me, and made me welcome, except my brother. 
I went to see him at his printing-house. I was better dressed 
than ever while in his service, having a genteel new suit 
from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets lined with near 
five pounds sterling in silver. He received me not very 
frankly, looked me all over, and turned to his work again. 

The journeymen were inquisitive where I had Ijcen, what 
sort of a country it was, and how I liked it I praised it 
much and the happy life I led in it, expressing strongly my 
intention of retuming to it ; and, one of them asking what 
kind of money we had there, I produced a handful of silver, 
and spread it before them, which was a kind of raree-show 
they had not been used to, paper being the money of Boston. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 37 

Then I took an opportunity of letting them see my watch ; 
and lastlj' (my hrother still grum and sullen) gave them a 
dollar to drink, and took my leave. This visit of mine of- 
fended him extremely. For, when my mother some time 
after spoke to him of a reconciliation, and of her wish to 
see us on good terms together, and that we might live for 
the future as brothers, he said I had insulted him in such a 
manner before his people that he could never forget or 
forgive it. In this, however, he was mistaken. 

IMy father received the Governor's letter with some sur- 
prise, hut said little of it to me for some time. Captain 
Holmes returning, he showed it to him, and asked him if ho 
knew Sir William Keith, and what kind of a man he was ; 
adding that he must ho of small discrt^tion to think of setting 
a youth up in business who wanted three years to arri^•e at 
man's estate. Holmes said what he could in favour of the 
project, but my father was decidedly against it, and at last 
gave a flat denial. He wrote a civil letter to Sir William, 
thanking him for the patronage he had so kindly offered me, 
and declined to assist me as yet in setting up, I being, in his 
opinion, too young to be trusted with the management of an 
imdertaking so important, and for which the prejjaration 
required a considerable expenditure. 

My old companion Collins, who was a clerk in the post- 
oflice, pleased with the account I gave him of my new 
country, determined to go thither also ; and while I waited 
for my father's determination, he set out before me by land 
to Rhode Island, leaving his books, which were a pretty 
collection in mathematics and natural philosophy, to come 
with mine and me to New York, where lie proposed to 
wait for me. 

My father, though he did not approve Sir William's pro- 
position, was yet pleased that I had been able to obtain so 
advantageous a character from a person of such note where 



38- BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

I had resided, and that I had been so industrious and care- 
ful as to equip myself so handsomely in so short a time ; 
therefore, seeing no prospect of an accommodation between 
ray brother and me, he gave his consent to my returning 
again to Philadelphia, advised me to behave respectfully to 
the people there, endeavour to obtain the general esteem, 
and avoid lampooning and hbelling, to which he thought I 
had too much inclination ; telling me, that by steady 
industry and prudent parsimony I might save enough by 
the time I was one-and-twenty to set me up ; and that if I 
came near the matter he would help me out with the rest. 
This was aU I could obtain, except some small gifts as 
tokens of his and my mother's love, when I embarked again 
for New York ; now with [their approbation and their 



The sloop putting in at Newport, Ehode Island, I \isited 
my brother John, who had been married and settled there 
some years. He received me very affectionately, for he 
always loved me. A friend of his, one Vernon, having some 
money due to him in Pennsylvania, about thirty -five pounds 
currency, desii'ed I would recover it for him, and keep it 
till I had his diiections what to employ it in. Accordingly 
he gave me an order to receive it. This business afterwards 
occasioned me a good deal of uneasiness. 

At Newport we took in a number of passengers, amongst 
whom were two j'oung women travelling together, and a 
sensible, matron-like Quaker lady, with her servants. I 
had shown an obliging disposition to render her some little 
services, which probably impressed her wdth sentiments of 
good- will towards me ; for when she witnessed the daily 
growing familiarity between the young women and myself, 
which they appeared to encourage, she took me aside and 
said, " Young man, I am concerned for thee, as thou hast 
no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of thp 



BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 39 

world, or of the snares youth is exposed to ; depend upon it, 
these are very bad women : I can see it by all their actions ; 
and if thee art not upon thy guard, they will draw thee into 
some danger ; they are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, 
in a friendly concern for thy welfare, to have no acquaint- 
ance with them." As I seemed at fii'st not to think so ill 
of them as she did, she mentioned some things she had 
observed and heard, that had escaped my notice, but now 
convinced me she was right. I thanked her for her 
kind advice, and promised to follow it. When we arrived 
at New York they told me where they lived, and invited me 
to come and see them, but I avoided it ; and it was well I 
did, for the next day the captain missed a silver spoon and 
some other things, that had been taken out of his cabin, and 
knowing that these were a couple of strumpets, he got a 
warrant to search their lodgings, found the stolen goods, 
and had the thieves punished. So, though we had escaped 
a sunken rock, which we scraped upon in the passage, I 
thought this escape of rather more importance to me. 

At New York I found my friend CoUins, who had 
arrived there some time before me. We had been intimate 
from children, and had read the same books together ; but 
he had the advantage of more time for reading and study- 
ing, and a wonderful genius for mathematical learning, in 
which he far outstripped me. While I lived in Boston, 
most of my hours of leisvu-e for conversation were spent 
with him, and he continued a sober as well as industrious 
lad, was much respected for his learning by several of the 
clergy and other gentlemen, and seemed to promise making 
a good figure in life. But duiing my absence he had 
acquired a habit of drinking brandy, and I found by his 
own account, as well as that of others, that he had been 
di'unk every day since his arrival at New York, and be- 
baved himself in a very extravagant manner. He had 



40 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

gamed too, and lost his money, so that I was ohh'ged to 
dischiiige his lodgings, and defray his expenses on the road 
and at Philadelphia, which proved a great hiirden to mc. 

The then Oovernor of New York, Burnet (son of Bishop 
Bnrnet) , hearing from the captain that one of the passengers 
had a great many books on board, desired him to bring me 
to see him. I waited on him, and should have taken Col- 
lins with me had he been sober. The Governor received 
me with great civility, showed me his librarj^, which was a 
considerable one, and we had a good deal of conversation 
relative to books and authors. This was the second 
Governor who had done me the honour to take notice of me, 
and, for a poor boy like me, it was very pleasing. 

We proceeded to Philadelphia. I received in the way 
Vernon's money, without which we could hardly have 
finished our joumeJ^ Collins wished to be employed in 
some counting-house ; but, whether they discovered his 
dram-drinking by his breath or by his behaviour, though 
he had some recommendations, he met with no success in 
any application, and continued lodging and boarding at the 
same house with me, and at my expense. Knowing I had 
that money of Vernon's, he was continually borrowing of 
me, still promising repayment as soon as he should be in 
business. At length he had got so much of it, that I was 
distressed to think what I should do in case of being called 
on to lemit it. 

His drinking continued, about which we sometimes 
quan-elled, for when a little into.xicated he was very irri- 
table. Once in a boat on the Delaware, with some other 
young men, he refused to row in his turn. "I will be 
rosved home," said he. "We will not row you," said I. 
"You must," said he, " or stay all night on the water, just 
as you please." The others said, " Let us row ; what signi- 
fies it ? " But, my mind being soured with his other 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



41 



conduct, I continued to refuse. So lie swore, he would 
make me row, or throw me overboard ; and coming along 
stepping on the thwarts towards me, when he came up and 
struck at me, I clapped my head under his thighs, and, ris- 
ing, pitched him headforemost into the river. I knew he 
was a good swimmer, and so was under little concern about 
him ; but before he could get round to lay hold of the boat 
we had with a few strokes pulled her out of his reach ; and 
whenever he drew near the boat, we asked him if he would 
row, striking a few strokes to slide her away from him. He 
was ready to stifle with vexation, and obstinately would not 
promise to row. Finding him at last beginning to tire, we 
drew hiTu into the boat, and brought him home dripping 
wet. We hardly exchanged a civil word after this adven- 
ture. At length a West India captain, who had a com- 
mission to procure a preceptor for the sons of a gentleman 
at Barbadoes, met with him, and proposed to carry liiin 
thither to fill that situation. He accepted, and promised to 
remit me what he owed me out of the first money he should 
receive, but I never heard of him after. 

The violation of my trust respecting Vernon's money 
was one of the first great errata of my life ; and this 
showed that my father was not much out in his judgment 
when he considered mo as too young to manage business. 
But Sir William, on reading his letter, said he was too 
prudent, that there was a great difference in persons ; and 
discretion did not always accompany years, nor was youth 
always without it. " But since he will not set you up, I 
will do it myself. Give me an inventory of the things 
necessary to be had from P^ngland, and I will send for 
them. You shall repay me when you are able. I am 
resolved to have a good printer here, and I am sure you 
must succeed." This was spoken with such hii appearand 
of cordiality, that I had not the least doubt of his mcauinu- 
B*— 9(i 



42 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

•vvhiat he said. I had hitherto kept the proposition of my 
setting up a secret in Philadelphia, and 1 stiU kept it. 
Had it been known that I depended on the Governor, 
probably some friend that knew him better would have 
advised me not to rely on him, as I afterwards heard it as 
his known character to be liberal of promises, which he 
never meant to keep. Yet, unsolicited as he was by me, 
how could I think his generous offers insincere? I believed 
him one of the best men in the world. 

I presented him an inventory of a little printing-house, 
amounting, by my computation, to about one hundred 
pounds sterling. He liked it, but asked me if my being 
on the spot in England to choose the types, and see that 
everything was good of the kind, might not be of some 
advantage. " Then," said he, " when there, you may 
make acquaintance, and establishing correspondences in 
the bookselling and stationery line." I agreed that this 
might be advantageous. " Then," said he, " get yourself 
ready to go by the Annis,'''' which was the annual ship, and 
the only one, at that time usually passing between London 
and Philad{;lphia. But as it would be some months before 
the Annis sailed, I continued working with Kcimer, fretting 
extremely about the money CoUins had got from me, and 
in great apprehensions of being called upon for it by 
Vernon ; this, however, did not happen for some years 
after. 

I believe I have omitted mentioning, that in my fii-st 
voyage from Boston to Philadelphia, being becalmed off 
Block Island, our crew employed themselves in catching 
cod, and hauled up a great number. Till then, I had 
stuck to my resolution to eat nothing that bad had life ; 
and on this occasion I considered, according to my master 
Tryon, the taking of every fish as a kind of unprovoked 
murder, since none of them had, or could do us any injury. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 43 

that might justify this massacre. All this seemed very 
reasonable. But I had heen formerly a great lover of fish, 
and when it came out of the frying-pan it smelt admirably 
well. I balanced some time between principle and inclina- 
tion, till, recollecting that when the fish were opened I saw 
smaller fish taken out of their stomachs, then, thought I, 
" If you eat one another, T don't see why we may not eat 
you ; " so I dined upon cod very heartilj-, and have since 
continued to eat as other people, returning only now and 
then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a 
thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables on« to 
find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to 
do. 

Keimer and I lived on a pretty good familiar footing, 
and agreed tolerably well, for he suspected nothing of my 
setting up. He retained a great deal of his old enthusiasm, 
and loved argumentation; we therefore had many dispu- 
tations. I used to work him so with my Socratic method, 
and had trepanned him so often by questions apparently so 
distant from any point we had in hand, yet by degrees 
leading to the point, and bringing him into difficulties and 
contradictions, that at last he grew ridiculously cautious, 
and would hardly answer me the most common question 
without asking first, " What do you intend to infer from 
that ? " However, it gave him so high an opinion of my 
abilities in the confuting way, that he seriously proposed 
my being his colleague in a project he had of setting up 
a new sect. He was to preach the doctrines, and I was to 
confound all opjjonents. When he came to exj^lain with 
me upon the doctrines, I found several conundi-ums, which 
I objected to unless I might have my way a little too, and 
introduce some of mine. 

Keimer wore his beard at full length, because somewhere 
in the Mosaic law it is said, " Thou shnlt not mar the corners 



44 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

of thij hcardy He likewise kept the seventh day, Sabhath ; 
and these two points were essential with him. I disliked 
both, but agreed to them on condition of his adopting the 
doctrine of not using animal food. " I doubt," said he, 
"my constitution will not bear it." I assured him it 
would, and that he would be the better for it. He was 
usually a great eater, and I wished to give myself some 
diversion in half starving him. He consented to try the 
practice, if I would keep him company. I did so, and we 
held it for three months. Our provisions were purchased, 
cooked, and brought to us regularly by a woman in the 
neighbourhood, who had fi-om me a list of forty dishes, 
which she prepared for us at different times, in which 
there entered neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. This whim 
suited me the better at this time from the cheapness of it, 
not costing us above eighteen pence sterling each per week. 
I have since kept several Lents most strictly, leaving the 
common diet for that, and that for the common, abruptly, 
without the least inconvenience ; so that I think there is 
little in the advice of making those changes by easy gra- 
dations. I went on pleasantly, but poor Keimer suffered 
grievously, grew tired of the project, longed for the flesh- 
pots of Egypt, and ordered a roast pig. He invited me 
and two women friends to dine with him ; but, it being 
brought too soon upon table, he could not resist the tempta- 
tion, and ate the whole before w'e came. 

I had made some courtship during this time to Miss 
Read. I had a great respect and affection for her, and had 
some reasons to believe she had the same for me ; but, as I 
was about to take a long voyage, and we were both very 
young, only a little above eighteen, it was thought most 
prudent by her mother to prevent our going too far at 
present ; as a marriage, if it were to take place, would be 
rrore convcniont after my return, when T should bo, as I 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 45 

hoped, set up in my business. Perhaps, too, she thought 
my expectations not so well founded as I imagined them 
to he. 

My chief acquaintances at this time were Charles Osborne, 
Joseph Watson, and James Ealph ; all lovers of reading. 
The two first were clerks to an eminent scrivener or 
conveyancer in the town, Charles Brockden ; the other was 
a clerk to a merchant. Watson was a pious, sensible young 
man, of great integrity ; the others rather more lax in their 
principles of religion, particularly Ralph, who, as well as 
Collins, had been unsettled by me; for which they both 
naade me suffer. Osborne was sensible, candid, franlc : 
sincere and affectionate to his friends ; but, in literary 
matters, too fond of criticism. Ralph was ingenious, 
genteel in his manners, and extremely eloquent ; I think 
I never knew a prettier talker. Both were great admirers 
of poetry, and began to try their hands in little pieces. 
Many pleasant walks we have had together on Sundays in 
the woods, on the banks of the Schuylkill, where we read to 
one another, and conferred on what we had read. 

Ralph was inclined to give himself up entii-ely to poetr}-, 
not doubting that he might make great proficiency in it, and 
even make his fortune by it. He pretended that the greatest 
poets must, when they first began to write, have committed 
as many faults as he did. Osborne endeavoured to dissuade 
him, assured him he had no genius for poetry, and ad- 
vised him to think of nothing beyond the business he was 
bred to ; that in the mercantile way, though he had no stock, 
he might by his diligence and punctuality recommend him- 
self to employment as a factor, and in time acquire wherc- 
witli to trade on his own account. I approved for luy pait 
the am\ising one's self with poetry now and then, so far as to 
improve one's language, b\it no farthei-. 

On this it was proposed that we sliould carh of iis, at (jur 



4G BENJAMIN TRANTCLIN. 

next meeting, prudute a piece of oiu- own composing, in 
order to improve by our mutual observations, criticisms, 
and corrections. As language and expression were what we 
had in view, we excluded all considerations of invention, by 
agreeing that the task should be a version of the eighteenth 
Psalm, which describes the descent of a Deity. When the 
time of oui- meeting drew nigh, Ealph called on me first, 
and let me know his piece was ready. I told him I had been 
busy, and, having little inclination, had done nothing. He 
then showed me his piece for my opinion, and I much 
approved it, as it appeared to me to have great merit. 
" Jfow," said he, " Osborne never wiU allow the least merit 
in anything of mine, but makes a thousand criticisms out of 
mere envy. He is not so jealous of you ; I wish, therefore, 
yoii would take this piece and produce it as youi'S. I will 
pretend not to have had time, and so produce nothing. We 
shall then hear what he will say to it." It was agreed, 
and I immediately transcribed it, that it might appear in 
my own hand. 

We met. Watson's performance was read ; there were 
some beauties in it, but many defects. Osborne's was read ; 
it was much better. Ealph did it justice ; remarked some 
faults, but applauded the beauties. He himself had nothing 
to produce. I was backward, seemed desirous of being ex- 
cused, had not had sufficient time to correct, &c. But no 
excuse could be admitted ; produce I must. It was read and 
repeated. Watson and Osborne gave up the contest, and 
joined in applauding it. Ralph only made some criticisms, 
and proposed some amendments ; but I defended my text. 
Osborne was severe against Ralph, and told me he was no 
better able to criticise than compose verses. As these two 
were returning home, Osborne expressed himself still more 
strongly in favour of what he thought my production ; hav- 
ing before refrained, as he said, lest I should think he meant 



BKN.TAMIN PKANKLIN. 47 

to flatter me. " But who would have imagined," said he, " that 
Fiankliii was cajDable of such a performance ; such i^ainting, 
such force, such fire ! He has even improved on the original. 
In common conversaiion he seems to have no choice of 
words ; he hesitates and blunders, and yet, good God, how he 
writes !" When we next met, Ralph discovered the trick 
we had played, and Osborne was laughed at. 

This transaction fixed Ralph in his resolution of becoming 
a poet. I did all I could to dissuade him from it, but he 
continued scribbling verses tillTope cured him. He became, 
however, a pretty good prose writter. More of him here- 
after. But, as I may not have occasion to mention the 
other two, I shall just remark here, that Watson died in my 
arms a few years after, much lamented, being the best of 
our set. Osborne went to the West Indies, where he be- 
came an eminent lawyer and made money, but died young. 
He and I had made a serious agreement, that the one who 
happened first to die should, if possible, make a friendly 
visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found things in 
that separate state. But he never fulfilled his promise. 

The Governor, seeming to like my company, had me fre- 
quently at his house ; and his setting me up was always 
mentioned as a fixed thing. I was to take vnth. me letters 
recommendatory to a number of his friends, besides the letter 
of credit to funiish me with the necessary money for pur- 
chasing the press, types, paper, &c. For these letters I was 
appointed to call at diiferent times, when they were to be 
ready ; but a future time was still named. Thus we went on 
till the ship — whose departure, too, had been several times 
postponed — was on the point of sailing. Then, when I called 
to take my leave and receive the letters, his secretary, Dr. 
Baird, came out to me and said the Governor was extremely 
busy in writing, but would be down at Newcastle before the 
ship, and then the letters would be delivered to me. 



48 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

Ralph, though married, and having one child, had deter- 
mined to accompany me in this voyage. It was thought he 
intended to establish a correspondence, and obtain goods to 
sell on commission ; but I found after, that having some 
cause of discontent with his wife's relations, he proposed to 
leave her on their hands, and never return to America. 
Having taken leave of my friends, and exchanged promises 
with Miss Read, I quitted Philadelphia in the ship, which 
anchored at Newcastle. The Governor was there; but 
when I went to his lodging, his secretary came to me from 
him. with expressions of the greatest regret that he could 
not then see me, being engaged in business of the utmost im- 
portance ; but that he would send the letters to me on board, 
Wishing me heartily a good voyage and a speedj- return, &c, 
I returned on board a little puzzled, but still not doubting. 



CHAPTER m. 

Mil. Andkew Hamilton, a celebrated lawyer of Phila- 
delphia, had taken his passage in the same ship for himself 
and son, with Mr. Denham, a Quaker merchant, and Messrs. 
Oniam and Russel, masters of an iron work in Maryland, 
who had engaged the great cabin ; so that Ralph and I were 
forced to take up with a berth in the steerage, and none on 
board knowing us, were considered as ordinary persons. 
But Mv. Hamilton and his son (it was James, since Gover- 
nor) returned from Newcastle to Philadelphia ; the father 
being recalled by a great fee to plead for a seized ship. 
And, just before we sailed. Colonel Frencli coming on 
board, and showing me great lespect, 1 was moi'e taken 
notice of, and, with my friend Ralph, in\'ited by the other 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 49 

gentlemen to come into 'the cabin, there heing- now room. 
Accordingly we removed thither. 

Understanding that Colonel French had brought on board 
the Governor's despatches, I asked the captain for those let- 
ters that were to be under my care. He said all were put 
into the bag together ; and he could not then come at them ; 
but, before we landed in England, I should have an ojjpor- 
tunity of picking them out ; so I was satisfied for the pre- 
sent, and we proceeded on our voyage. We had a sociable 
comiiany in the cabin, and lived uncommonly well, having 
the addition of all j\Ii'. Hamilton's stores, who had laid in 
plentifully. In this passage jMr. Denham contracted a 
friendship for me that continued during his life. The voyage 
was otherwise not a pleasant one, as we had a great deal of 
bad weather. 

When we came into the Channel, the captain kept his 
word with me, and gave me an opportunity of examining 
the bag for the Governor's letters. I found some upon which 
my name was put as under my care. T picked out six or 
seven, that, by the handwriting, I thought might be the 
promised letters, especially as one of them was addressed to 
Baskett, the King's printer, and another to some stationer. 
We arrived in London the 24th December, 1724. I waited 
upon the stationer, Avho came first in mj- way, delivering 
the letter as from Governor Keith. " I don't know such a 
person," said he ; but opening the letter, " Oh I this is from 
liiddlesden. I have lately found him to be a comjilete ras- 
cal, and I will have nothing to do with him, nor receive any 
letter's from him." So putting the letter into my hand, he 
turned on his heel and left me to serve some customer. I 
was surprised to find these were not the Governor's letters ; 
and, after recollecting and compaiing circumstances, I 
began to doubt his sincerity. I found my friend Denham, 
and opened the whole affair to him. He let me into Keith's 



50 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

character, told me there was not the least probability that 
he had written any letters for me ; that no one who Icnew 
hin\ had the smallest deijendence on him ; and he laughed 
at the idea of the G-overnor's giving me a letter of credit, 
having, as he said, no credit to give. On my expressing 
some concern about what I should do, ho advised me to en- 
deavour getting some employment in the way of my busi- 
ness. "Among the printers here," said he, "you will 
impiove yourself, and when you return to America j'ou wUl 
set up to greater advantage." 

We both of us happened to know, as well as the stationer, 
that Eiddlesden, the attorney, was a very knave. He had 
half ruined Miss Read's father, by persuading him to be 
bound for him. By his letter it appeared there was a secret 
scheme on foot to the prejudice of jMr. Hamilton (supposed 
to be then coming over with us) ; that Keith was concerned 
in it with Eiddlesden. Denham, who was a friend of 
Hamilton's, thought he ought to be acquainted with it; so, 
when he arrived in England, which was soon after, partly 
from resentment and ill will to Keith and Eiddlesden, and 
partly from good will to him, I waited on him, and gave 
him the letter. He thanked me cordially, the information 
being of importance to him ; and from that time he became 
my friend, greatly to my advantage afterwards on many 
occasions. 

But what shall we think of a Grovernor playing such piti- 
ful tricks, and imposing so grossly on a poor ig-norant boy! 
It was a habit he had acquired. He wished to please every- 
body ; and, having little to give, he gave expectations. He 
was otherwise an ingenious, sensible man, a pretty good 
writer, and a good Governor for the people ; though not for 
his constituents, the Proprietaries, whose instructions he 
sometimes disregarded. Several of our best laws were of 
his planning, and passed during his administration. 



BKN.TAMTN FRANKLIN. 51 

Ralph and I were inseparable companions. We took 
lodgings together in Little Britain at thi'ee shillings and 
sixpence a week ; as much as we could then afford. He 
found some relations, but thej'- were jjoor, and unable to 
assist him. He now let me know his intentions of re- 
maining in London, and that he never meant to return to 
Philadelphia. He had brought no money with him ; the 
whole he could muster having been expended in paying his 
passage. I had fifteen pistoles ; so he borrowed occasionally 
of me to subsist, while he was looking out for business. He 
first endeavoured to get in the playhouse, believing himself 
qualified for an actor ; but Wilkes,* to whom he applied, 
advised hun candidly not to think of that emplopnent, as it 
was impossible he should succeed in it. Then he proposed 
to Roberts, a publisher in Paternoster Row, to write for 
him a weekly paper like the Spectator, on certain conditions ; 
which Roberts did not approve. Then he endeavoui-ed to 
get employment as a hackney writer, to copy for the 
stationers and lawyers about the Temple ; but could not 
find a vacancy. 

For myself, I immediately got into work at Palmer's, a 
famous printing-house in Bartholomew Close, where I con- 
tinued near a year. I was pretty diligent, but I spent with 
Ralph a good deal of my earnings at plays and public amuse- 
ments. We had nearly consumed all my pistoles, and now 
just mbbed on from hand to mouth. He seemed quite to 
have forgotten his wife and child ; and I by degrees my en- 
gagements with Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more 
than one letter, and that was to let her know I was not 
likely soon to return. This was another of the great errata 
of my life, which I could wish to correct, if I were to live 
it over again. In fact, by our expenses, I was constantly 
kept unable to pay my passage. 

* A comedian of eminence 



52 BKNJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

At Palmer's I was employed in composing for the second 
edition of WoUaston's Religion of Nature. Some of his 
reasonings not appearing to me well founded, I wrote a 
little metaphysical piece in which I made remarks on them. 
It was entitled, A Dissertation on Liberty and Xecessity, 
Pleasure avd Pain. I inscribed it to my friend Ralph ; I 
printed a small number. It occasioned my being more con- 
sidered by Mr. Palmer, as a yoimg man of some ingenuitj', 
though he seriously expostulated with me upon the prin- 
i;iples of my pamphlet, which to him appeared abominable. 
lly printing this pamphlet was another errotian. While I 
lodged in Little Britain, I made an acquaintance with one 
Wilcox, a bookseller, whose shop was next door. He had 
an immense collection of second-hand books. Circulating- 
libraries were not then in use : but we agreed, that, on cer- 
tain reasonable terms, which I have now forgotten, I might 
talce, read, and return any of his books. This I esteemed a 
great advantage, and I made as much use of it as I could. 

My pamphlet by some means falling into the hands of 
one Lyons, a surgeon, author of a book entitled, " The 
Infallihility of Human Judgment,'''' it occasioned an acquain- 
tance between us. He took great notice of me, called on 
me often to converse on those subjects, carried me to the 
Horns, a pale alehouse in Lane, Cheapside, and intro- 
duced me to Dr. Mandeville, author of the " Fahle of the 
Bees,'''' who had a club there, of which he was the soul ; 
being a most facetious, entertaining companion. Lyons too 
introduced me to Dr. Pemberton, at Batson's Coffee-house, 
who promised to give me an opportunity, some time or 
other, of seeing Sir Isaac Newton, of which I was extremely 
desirous ; but this never happened. 

I had brought over a few curiosities, among which the 
principal was a purse made of the asbestos, which purifies by- 
fire. Sir Hans Sloane heard of it. came to see me, and 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. bo 

invited me to his house in Bloomsbiiry Square, showed me all 
his curiosities, and persuaded me to add that to the number ; 
for which he jjaid me handsomely. 

In our^ house lodged a young woman, a milliner, who, I 
think, had a shop in the Cloisters. She had been genteely 
bred, was sensible, lively, and of a most pleasing conversa- 
tion. Ralph read plays to her in the evenings, they grew 
intimate, she took another lodging, and he followed her. 
They lived together some time ; but he being still out of 
business, and her income not sufficient to maintain them 
•with her child, he took a resolution of going from London, 
to try for a country school, which he thought himself well 
qualified to undertake, as he wrote an excellent hand, and 
was a master of arithmetic and accounts. This, however, 
he deemed a business below him, and, confident of future 
better fortune, when he should be unwilling to liave it known 
that he once Avas so meanly employed, he changed his name, 
and did me the honour to assume mine ; for I soon after 
had a letter from him, acquainting me that he was settled in 
a small village (in Berkshire, I think it was, where he 
taught reading and writing to ten or a dozen boj's, at six- 
pence each per week), recommending I\Irs. T to my 

care, and desiring me to write to him, directing for Mr. 
Frnnldin, schoolmaster, at such a place. 

He contiiaued to write to me frequently, sending me large 
specimens of an epic poem, which he was then composing, 
and desiring my remarks and corrections. These I gave him 
from time to time, but endeavoured rather to discourage his 
proceeding. One of Young's Satires was then just pub- 
lished. I copied and sent him a great part of. it, which set 
in a strong light the folly of pursuing the Muses. All was 
in vain ; sheets of the poem continued to come by every 
post. In the meantime, Mi's. T — , having on liis tie- 
count lost her friends and business, was often in distresses, 



54 BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 

and userl to send for me, and 'borrow what money I could 
spare to help to alleviate them. I grew fond of her 
company, and. being at that time under no religious re- 
straint, and taking advantage of my importance to her, I 
attempted to take some liberties with her (^another erratum), 
which she repulsed, -with, a proper degree of resentment. 
She wrote to Ralph and acquainted him with my conduct ; 
this occasioned a breach between us ; and, when he returned 
to London, he let me know he considered all the obligations 
he had been under to me as annulled ; from which I con- 
cluded I was never to expect his repaying the money I had 
lent him, or that I had advanced for him. This, however, 
was of little consequence, as he was totally imable ; and by 
the loss of his friendship I found myself relieved from a 
heavy burden. I now began to think of fgetting a little 
beforehand, and, expecting better employment, I left Pal- 
mer's to work at Watts's, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, a still 
greater printing-house. Here I continued aU the rest of my 
stay in London. 

At my first admission into the printing-house I took to 
working at press, imagining I felt a want of the bodily 
exercise I had been used to in Amei'ica, where press- work is 
mixed with the composing. I drank only water ; the other 
workmen, near fifty in number, were great drinkers of beer. 
On occasion I carried up and down stairs a large forme of 
types in each hand, when others carried but one in both 
hands. They wondered to see, from this and several 
instances, that the Water- American, as they called me, was 
stronger than themselves, who drank sironr/ beer I We had 
an alehouse boy, who attended always in the house to supply 
the M'orkmen. My companion at the press drank every 
day a pint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his 
bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a 
pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o'clock, and 



BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 55 

another when he had done his day's work. I thought it a 
detestahle custom ; but it was necessary, he supposed, to 
chink strong beer that he might he strong to labour. I en- 
deavoured to convince him, that the bodily strength afforded 
by beer could only be in proportion to the grain or flour of 
the barley dissolved in the water of which it was made ; 
that there was more flour in a pennyworth of bread ; and 
therefore, if he could eat that with a pint of water, it would 
give him more strength than a quart of beer. He drank on, 
however, and had four or five shillings to pay out of his 
wages ever}- Saturday night for that vile liquor ; an expense 
I was free from. And thus these poor devils keep them- 
selves always under. 

Watts, after some weeks, desiring to have me in the 
composing-room, I left the press-men ; a new bien rciin for 
drink, being five shillings, was demanded of me by the 
compositors. I, thought it an imposition, as I had paid one 
to the press-men ; the master thought so too, and forbade 
my paying it. I stood out two or three weeks, was accord- 
ingly considered as -an excommunicate, and had so many 
little pieces of private malice practised on me, by mixing 
my sorts, transposing and breaking my matter, &c., &c., if 
ever I stepped out of the room ; and all ascribed to the 
chapel ghost, which they said ever haunted those not regu- 
larly admitted; that, notwithstanding the master's pro- 
tection, I found myself obliged to comply and pay the 
money ; convinced of the foUy of being on ill terms with 
those one is to live with continually. 

I was now on a fair footing with them, and soon acquired 
considerable influence. I proposed some reasonable altera- 
tions in the chapel * laws, and carried them against all oppo- 
sition. From my example, a great man}- of them left their 
muddling breakfast of beer, bread, and cheese, finding they 
* A priuting-house is called a chapel bv the workmen. 



56 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

could ■with me be siipplied from a neighbouring house with 
a large porringer of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with pepper, 
crumbled with bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price 
of a pint of beer, viz. three halfpence. This was a more 
comfortable as well as a cheaper breakfast, and kept their 
heads clearer. Those, who continued sotting with their beer 
aU day, were often, by not paying, out of credit at the ale- 
house, and used to make interest with me to get beer ; their 
light, as they phrased it, being out. I watched the pay-table 
on Saturday night, and collected what I stood engaged for 
them, having to pay sometimes near thirty shillings a week 
on their accounts. This, and my being estimated a pretty 
good riggite, that is, a jocular verbal satirist, supported my 
consequence in the society. My constant attendance (I 
never making a St. 3Ionday) recommended me to the master J 
and my uncommon quickness, at composing occasioned my 
being put upon work of despatch, which was generally better 
paid. So I went on now very agreeably. 

My lodgings in Little Britain being too remote, I found 
another in Duke Street, opposite to the Romish Chapel. It 
was up three pair of stairs l»ackwards, at an Italian ware- 
house. A widow lady kept the house : she had a daughter, 
and a maid-servant, and a journeyman who attended the 
warehouse, but lodged abroad. After sending to inquire my 
character at the house where I last lodged, she agi-eed to 
take me in at the same rate — three shillings and sixpence a 
week ; cheaper, as she said, from the protection she expected 
in having a man to lodge in the house. She was a widow, 
an elderly woman; had been bred a Protestant, being a 
clergyman's daugliter, but was converted to the Catholic 
religion by her husband, whose memory she much revered ; 
had lived much among people of distinction, and knew a 
thousand anecdotes of them as far back as the time of 
Charles II. She was lame in her knees with the gout, and 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. T,? 

therefore seldom stirred out of her loom, so sometimes 
wanted company ; and hers was so highly amusing to nie, 
that I was sure to spend an evening with her whenever she 
desired it. Our supper was only half an anchovy each, on a 
very little slice of hread and hutter, and half a pint of ale 
between us ; hut the entertainment was in her conversation. 
My always keeping good hours, and giving little trouble in 
the family, made her unwilling to pai-t with me ; so that 
when I talked of a lodging I had heard of, nearer my 
business, for two shillings a week (which, intent as I was 
on saving monej^, made some difference), she bid me not 
think of it, for she would abate me two shillings a week 
for the future ; so I remained with her at one shilling and 
sixpence as long as I stayed in London. 

In a garret of her house there lived a maiden lady of 
seventy, in the most retired manner, of whom my landlady 
gave me this account : — that she was a Koman Catholic ; had 
been sent abroad when young, and lodged in a nunnery, 
with an intent of becoming a nun; but, the country not 
agreeing with her, she returned to England, where, there 
being no nunnery, she had vowed to lead the life of a nun, 
as near as might be done in those circumstances. Accord- 
ingly, .she had given all her estate to charitable purposes, 
reserving only twelve pounds a year to live on ; and out of 
this sum she still gave a part in charity, living herself on 
water-gruel only, and using no fire but to boil it. She had 
lived many years in that garret, being permitted to remain 
tliere gratis' by successive Catholic tenants of the house 
below, as they deemed it a blessing to have her there. A 
priest visited her, to confess her every day. " From this I 
asked her," said my landlady, " how she, as she lived, could 
possibly find so much employment for a confessor?" 
" Oh I " said she, " it is impossible to avoid vain thotightsy 
I was permitted once to visit her. She was cheerful and 



58 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

polite, and conversed pleasantly. The room was clean, but 
had no other furniture than a mattress, a table with a cruci- 
fix and a book, a stool which she gave me to sit on, and a 
picture, over the chimney, of St. Veronica displaying her 
handkerchief, with the miraculous figure of Christ's bleeding 
face on it, which she explained to me with great seriousness. 

She looked pale, but was never sick ; and I give it as 
another instance, on how small an income life and health 
may be supported. 

At Watts's printhig-house I contracted an acquaintance 
with an ingenious young man, one Wygate, who, having 
wealthy relations, had been better educated than most 
printers ; was a tolerable Latinist, spoke French, and loved 
reading. I taught him and a friend of his to swim, at 
twice going into the river, and they soon became good 
swimmers. They introduced me to some !gentlemen from 
the country, who went to Chelsea by -water, to see the 
coUege and Don Saltero's curiosities. In our return, at 
the request of the company, whose curiosity Wygate 
had excited, I stripped and leaped into the river, and 
swam from near Chelsea to Blackfriars ; performing in 
the way many feats of activity, both upon and under the 
water, that surprised and pleased those to whom they were 
novelties. 

I had, from a child, been delighted with this exercise, 
had studied and practised Thevenot's motions and positions, 
and added some of my own, aiming at the gTaceful and 
easy as weU as the useful. All these I took this occasion of 
exhibiting to the company, and was much flattered by 
their admiration ; and Wygate, who was desirous of be- 
coming a master, grew more and more attached to me on 
that account, as well as fi-om the similarity of our studies. 
He at length proposed to me travelling all over Europe to- 
gether, suj)porting ourselves everywhere by working at oiii 



BENJAMIN PKANKLIN. 59 

business. I was once inclined to it, but mentioning it to 
my good friend Mr. Denham, with whom I often spent an 
hour when I had leisure, he dissuaded me from it, advising 
me to think only of retiu'ning to Pennsylvania, which he 
was now about to do. 

I must record one trait of this good man's character. He 
had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failed in debt 
to a number of people, compounded, and went to America. 
There, by a close application to business as a merchant, he 
acquired a plentiful fortune in a few years. Returning to 
England in the ship with me, he invited his old creditors to 
an entertainment, at which he thanked them for the easy 
composition they had favoiu-ed him with ; and, when they 
expected nothing but the treat, every man, at the fii-st re- 
move, found under his plate an order on a banker for the 
full amount of the unpaid remainder, with interest. 

He now told me he was about to return to Philadelphia, 
and should carry over a great quantity of goods, in order to 
open a store there. He proposed to take me over as his 
clerk, to keep his books — in which he would instruct me — 
copy his letters, and attend the store. He added, that, as 
soon as I should be acquainted with mercantile business, he 
would promote me by sending me with a cargo of flour and 
bread to the West Indies, and procure me commissions from 
others which would be profitable, and, if I managed well, 
woiUd establish me handsomely. The thing pleased me, for 
I was grown tired of London, remembered with pleasure the 
happy months I had spent in Pennsylvania, and wished 
again to see it. Therefore I immediately agTeed, on the 
tenns of fifty pounds a year, Pennsylvania money ; less, in- 
deed, than my then j)resent gettings as a compositor, but af- 
fording a better prospect. 

I now took leave of printing, as I thought, for ever, and 
was daily employed in my new bu^ess, going about with 



no BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

Mr. Denham among the 1 tradesmen to purchase various 
articles, and see them packed iip, delivering messages, 
calling upon woi-kmen to despatch, &c. ; and when all was 
on board, I had a few days' leism-e. On one of these days, 
I was, to my surprise, sent for by a great man I knew only 
by name. Sir William Wyndham, and I waited uijon him. 
He had heard, by some means or other, of my swimming 
from Chelsea to Blackfi-iars, and of my teaching Wygate 
and another young man to swim in a few hours. He had 
two sons, about to set out on their travels ; he wished to 
have them first taught swimming, and proposed to gratify 
me handsomely if I would teach them. They were not yet 
come to town, and my stay was uncertain, so I could not 
undertake it. But from the incident I thought it likely, 
that if I were to remain in England, and open a swimming- 
school, I might get a good deal of money ; and it struck me 
so strongly, that, had the overture been made me sooner, 
probably I should not so soon have returned to America. 
Many years after, you and I had something of more im- 
portance to do with one of these sons of Sir William 
Wyndham, become Earl of Egremont, which I shall men- 
tion in its place. 

Thus I passed about eighteen months in London ; most 
part of the time I worked hard at my business, and spent 
but little upon mj'self, except in seeing plays, and in books. 
My friend Ralph had kept me poor. He owed me about 
twenty-seven pounds, which I was now never likely to re- 
ceive ; a great sum out of my small earnings ! I loved him, 
notwithstanding, for he had many amiable qualities. I had 
improved my knowledge, however, though I had by no 
means improved my fortune ; but I had made some very in- 
genious acquaintance, whose conversation was of great ad- 
vantage to me, and I had read considerably. 



BENJAMIN FEANKIilN. 61 



CHAPTER IV. 

We sailed from Gravesend on the 23rd of Jul}-, 172(3. For 
the incidents of the voyage, I refer- you to my journal, 
where you will iind them all minutely related. Perhaps the 
most important part of that journal is the plan* to be found 
in it, which I formed at sea, for regulating the future con- 
duct of my life. It is the more remarkable, as being formed 
when I was so young, and yet being pretty faithfully ad- 
hered to quite through to old age. 

We landed at Philadelphia the 1 1th of October, where I 
found simdi-y alterations. Keith was no longer Governor, 
being superseded by Major Gordon ; I met him wallcing the 
streets as a common citizen. He seemed a little ashamed at 
seeing- me, and passed without saying anything. I should 
have been as much ashamed at seeing Miss Eead, had not 
her friends, despairing with reason of my return, after the 
receipt of my letter, persuaded her to marry another, one 
Rogers, a potter, which was done in my absence. With 
him, however, she was never happy, and soon parted from 
him, refusing to cohabit with him or bear his name, it being 
now said he had another wife. He was a worthless fellow, 
though an excellent workman, which was the temptation to 
her friends. He got into debt, ran away in 1727 or 1728, 
went to the West Indies, and died there. Keimer had got 
a better house, a shop well supplied with stationery, plenty 
of new types, and a number of hands, though none good, and 
seemed to have a great deal of business. 

Mr. Denham took a store in Water Street, where we 

* This ■plan does not exist in the manuscript Journal found 
among Dr. Franklin's paiiers, which apjiears, hy a note thereon, 
to be a " copy iiifiJc at Reo.diari, in Pcnnaijlvania, Oolohi;v 2iiJ, 1787." 



or BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

opime.fl our goods ; I attended the business diligently, studied 
accounts, and grew, in a little time, expert at selling. "We 
lodged and boarded together ; he counselled me as a father, 
having a sincere regard for me. I respected and loved 
him, and wo might have gone on together very happily, 
but, in the beginning of February, 1727, when I had just 
passed my twenty-first year, we both were taken ill. My 
distemper was a pleurisy, which very nearly carried me 
off. I suffered a good deal, gave up the point in my 
own mind, and was at the time rather disappointed when 
I found myself recovering ; regretting, in some degree, 
that I must now, some time or other, have all that disagree- 
able work to go over again. I forget what Mr. Denham's 
distemper was; it held him a long time, and at length 
can'ied him off. He left me a small legacy in a nuncu- 
pative will, as a token of his kindness for me, and he left 
me once more to the wide world ; for the store was taken 
into the care of his executors, and my employment under 
him ended. 

My brother-in-lc).w, Holmes, being now at Philadelphia, 
advised my return to my business; and Keimer tempted me, 
with an offer of large wages by the year, to come and take 
the management of his printing-house, that he might better 
attend to his stationer's shop. I had heard a bad character 
of him in London from his wife and her friends, and was 
not for having any more to do with him. I wished for em- 
ployment as a merchant's clerk, but, not meeting with any, 
I closed again with Keimer. I found in his house these 
hands : Hugh Meredith, a Welsh Pennsylvanian, thirty 
years of age, bred to country work ; he was honest, sensible, 
a man of experience, and fond of reading, but addicted to 
drinking. Stephen Potts, a young countryman of full age, 
bred to the same, of uncommon natural parts, and great wit 
and humour, but a little idle. These he had agreed with. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 63 

at extreme low wages per week, to be raised a shilling 
every three months, as they would deserve by imin-oving in 
their business ; and the expectation of these high wages, to 
coine on hereafter, was what he had drawn them in with. 
]\Iercdith was to work at press, Potts at bookbinding, which 
he, by agreement, was to teach them, though he know 

ncnthcr one nor the other. John , a wild Irishman, 

brought up to no business, whose service, for four years, 
Keimer had purchased from the captain of a ship ; he, too, 
was to be made a pressman ; George "Webb, an Oxford 
scholar, whose time, for four years, he had likewise bought, 
intending him foi a compositor, of whom more presently ; 
and David Harry, a country boy, whom he had taken ap- 
prentice. 

I soon perceived that the intention of engaging me at 
wages so much higher than he had been used to give, was to 
have these raw cheap hands formed through me ; and as 
soon as I had instructed them, they being all articled to him, 
he should be able to do without me. I went, however, very 
cheerfully, put his printing house in order, which had been 
in great confusion, and brought his hands by degrees to 
mind their business and to do it better. 

It was an odd thing to find an Oxford scholar in the 
situation of a bought servant. He was not more than eigh- 
teen years of age, and he gave me this account of himself : 
that he was born in Gloucester, educated at a grammar 
school, and had been distinguished among his scholars for 
some apparent superiority in performing his part when they 
exhibited plays ; belonged to the Wits' Club there, and had 
written some pieces in prose and verse, which were printed 
in the Gloucester newspapers. Thence was sent to Oxford; 
there he continued about a year, but not well satisfied; 
wishing of all things to see London, and become a player. 
At length receiving his quarterly allowance of fifteen guineas, 



64 BENJAMIN I'RANKLIN. 

instead of discharging- his dehts, he went out of town, hid 
liis gown in a furze bush, and walked to London ; where, 
having no friend to advise him, he fell into had company, 
soou spent his guineas, found no means of heiug introduced 
among the players, grew necessitous, jjawned his clothes, 
and wanted bread. Walking the street very hungry, not 
knowing what to do with himself, a crimp's bill was put 
into his hand, offering immediate entertainment and 
encouragement to such as would bind themselves to serve in 
America. He went directly, signed the indentures, was put 
into the ship and came over ; never writing a line to his 
friends to acquaint them what was become of him. He was 
lively, witty, good-natured, and a pleasant companion ; but 
idle, thoughtless, and imprudent to the last degree. 

John, the Irishman, soon ran away ; with the rest I began 
to live very agreeably, for they all respected me the more, 
as they found Keimer incapable of instructing them, and 
that from me they learned something daily. My acquaint- 
ance with ingenious people in the town increased. Wo 
never worked on Saturday, that being Keimer "s Sabbath, so 
that I had two days for reading. Keimer himself treated 
me with great civility and apparent regard, and nothing 
now made me uneasy but my debt to Yernon, which I was 
yet unable to pay, being hitherto but a poor economist. He, 
however, kindly made no demand of it. 

Our printing house often wanted sorts, and there was no 
letter-foundry in America ; I had seen types cast at James's 
in London, but without much attention to the manner ; how- 
ever, I contrived a mould, and made use of the letters we 
had as puncheons, struck the matrixes in lead, and thus 
supplied in a pretty tolerable way all deficiencies. I also 
engraved several things on occasion ; made the ink ; I waa 
warehouseman; and, in short, quite h fac-totum. 

But, however sernceable I might be, I found that my 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 65 

services became every day of less importance, as the other 
hands improved in their business ; and, when Keimcr paid 
me a second quarter's wages, he let mo know that he felt 
them too heavy, and thought I should make an abatement. 
He grew by degrees less civil, put on more the aii's of master, 
frequently found fault, was captious, and seemed ready for 
an outbreaking. I went on nevertheless with a good deal of 
patience, thinking that his encumbered circumstances were 
partly the cause. At length a trifle snapped our connection ; 
for, a great noise happening near the court-house, I put my 
head out of the window to see what was the matter. Keimer, 
being in the street, looked up and saw me, called out to me 
inji loud voice and angry tone to mind my business ; adding 
some i-eproachful words, that nettled me the more for their 
publicity ; all the neighbours who were looking out on the 
same occasion being witnesses how I was treated. He came 
up immediately into the printing-house ; continued the 
quarrel, high words passed on both sides, he gave me the 
quarter's warning we had stipulated, expressing a wish that 
he had not been obliged to give so long a warning. I told him 
his wish was unnecessary, for I would leave him that instant ; 
and so taking my hat walked out of doors, desiring IMere- 
dith, whom I saw below, to take care of some things I left, 
and bring them to my lodgings. 

Meredith came accordingly in the evening, when we 
talked my affair- over. He had conceived a great regard for 
me, and was very unwilling that I should leave the house 
while he remained in it. He dissuaded me from retmning 
to my native country, which I began to think of ; he re- 
minded me that Keimer was in debt for all he possessed, 
that his creditors began to be uneasy; that he kept his 
■shop miserably, sold often without a profit for ready money, 
and often trusted without keeping accounts ; that he must 
therefore fail, which would make a vacancy I might profit 

c— 96 



66 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

of. I objected my want of money. He then let me know 
that his father had a high opinion of me, and, from some 
discourse that had passed between them he was sure 
would advance money to set me up, if 1 would enter into 
partnership with him. " My time," said he, " will be out 
with Keimer in the spring ; by that time we may have our 
press and types in from London. I am sensible I am no work- 
man ; if you like it your skill in the business shall be set 
against the stock I furnish, and we will share the profits 
equally." 

The proposal was agreeable to me, and I consented ; his 
father was in town, and approved of it ; the more as he said 
I had great influence with his son, had prevailed on him to 
abstain long from dram-drinking, and he hoped might break 
him of that wretched habit entirely, when we came to be so 
closely connected. I gave an inventory to the father, who 
carried it to a merchant ; the things were sent for, the secret 
was to be kept till they should arrive, and in the meantime I 
was to get work, if I could, at the other printing-house. But 
I found no vacancy there, and so remained idle a few days, 
when Keimer, on a prospect of being employed to print 
some paper money in Xew Jersey, which would require cuts 
and various types that I only could supply, and apprehen- 
ding Bradford might engage me and get the job fi'om him, 
sent me a very civil message, that old friends should not 
part for a few words, the effect of sudden passion, and •wash- 
ing me to return. Meredith persuaded me to comply, as it 
would give more opportunity for his improvement under my 
daily instructions ; so I returned, and we went on more 
smoothly than for some time before. The Xew Jersej' job 
was obtained ; I contrived a copper-plate press for it, the 
first that had been seen in the country ; I cut several orna- 
ments and checks for the bills. We went together to Bur- 
lington where I executed the whole to satisfaction : and he 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 67 

received so large a sum for the work, as to be enabled 
thereby to keep himself longer from ruin. 

At Burlington I made acquaintance with many principal 
people of the province. Several of them had been appointed 
by the Assembly a committee to attend the press, and take 
care that no more bills were printed than the law directed, 
They were, therefore, by turns constantly with us, and 
generally he who attended brought with him a friend or 
two for company. My mind having been much more im- 
proved by reading than Keimer's, I suppose it was for that 
reason my conversation seemed to be more valued. They 
had me to their houses, introduced me to their friends, and 
showed me much civility ; while he, though the master, was 
a little neglected. In truth, he was an odd creature ; 
ignorant of common life, fond of rudely opposing received 
opinions, slovenly to extreme dirtiness, enthusiastic in some 
points of religion, and a little knavish withal. 

We continued there near three months ; and by that time 
I could reckon among my acquired friends, Judge Allen, 
Samuel Bustill, the Secretary of the Province, Isaac Pear- 
son, Joseph Cooper, and several of the Smiths, members of 
Assembly, and Isaac Decow, the Surveyor-General. The 
latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me that 
he began for himself, when young, by wheeling clay for . 
the brick-makers ; learned to write after he was of age ; 
carried the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, 
and he had now, by his industry, acquired a good estate ; 
and said he, " I foresee that you wUl soon work this man 
out of his business, and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia." 
He had then not the least intimation of my intention to set 
up there or anywhere. These friends were afterwards of 
great use to me, as I occasionally was to some of them. 
They all continued their regard for me as long as they lived. 

Before I enter upon my public appearance in business, it 



b» BENJABIIN FRAKKLIN. 

may be well to let you know the then state of my mind, 
with regard to my principles and morals, that you maj' 
see how far those influenced the future events of my life. 
My parents had early given me religious impressions, and 
brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting 
way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by 
turns several points, as I found them disputed in the dif- 
ferent books I read, I began to doubt of the Revelation 
itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands ; they 
were said to be the substance of the sermons which had 
been preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened, that they 
wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was in- 
tended by them. For the arguments of the Deists, which 
were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger 
than the refutations ; in short, I soon became a thorough 
Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly 
Collins and Ralph ; but, each of these having wronged me 
greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting 
Keith's conduct towards me (who was another freethinker), 
and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at 
times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this 
doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful. 
My London pamphlet, printed in 1725,* which had for ita 
motto those lines of Drj-den ; 

" Whatever is, is right. But purbliud muii 
Sees but a part o' the cliaiu, the nearest liuks ; 
His eyes not carrying to that equal beam. 
That poises all above ; " 

and which from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, 
goodness, and power, concluded that nothing could possibly 

*Dr. Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Vaughan, dated Nov. 
ember 9tb, 1779, gives a further account of this pamphlet in these 
words :— 

•'It was addressed to Mr. J. E., that is James Ealph, then a 



BENJAMIN FBANKLIN. t)9 

lif wroiifj- in the world ; and that vice and viitiie were 
empty distinctions, no snch things existiiig ; appeared now 
not so clever a performance as I once thought it ; and I 
doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself un- 
perceived into my argument so as to infect all that followed, 
as is common in metaphysical reasonings. 

I grew convinced that truth, sinceritij, and intajriti/, in 
dealings between man and man, were of the utmost import- 
ance to the felicity of life ; and I formed written resolu- 
tions, which still remain in my journal book, to practise 
them ever while I lived. Eevelation had indeed no weight 
with mo, as such : hut I entertained an opinion, that, 

youth of about my age, aud my intimate friend ; afterwards a politi- 
cal writer aud historian. The purport of it was to prove the doctrine 
of fate, from the supposed attributes of God ; in some such manner 
as this. That in erecting and groveruing the world, as he was iu- 
tinitely wise, he knew what would be best ; infinitely good, he must 
be disposed, and infinitely powerful, he must be able to execute it. 
Consequently all is right. 

There were only a hundred copies j)rinted, of which I gave a few 
to friends ; and afterwards disliking the piece, ns conceiving it 
might have an ill tendency, I burnt the rest, except one copy, the 
margin of which was filled with manuscript notes by Lyons, author 
of the Infallihility of Human Judgment, who was at that time another 
of my acquaintance in London. I was not nineteen years of age 
when it was written. In 1730, I wrote a piece on the other side of 
the question, which began with laying for its foundation this fact : 
' That almoat all men ill all agea and cnuntries have at timesmade use 
of PRATER. ' Thence I reasoned, that, if all things are ordained, 
prayer must among the rest be ordained. But, as prayer can pro- 
cure no change in things that are ordained, praying must then be 
useless, and an absurdity. God would therefore not ordain praying, 
if everything else was ordained. But praying exists, therefore all 
other things are not ordained, &c. This pamphlet was never 
printed, and the manuscript has been long lost. The great un- 
certainty I found in metaphysical reasonings disgusted me, and 1 
quitted that kind of reading and study for others more satis, 
factory." 



70 BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 

though certain actions might not be bad, because they were 
forbidden by it, or good, hecuKse it commanded them ; yet 
probably those actions might be forbidden hecause they were 
bad for us, or commanded became they were beneficial to us, 
in their ovra. natures, all the circumstances of things con- 
sidered. And this persuasion, with the kind hand of Pro- 
vidence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favourable 
cii'cumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me, 
through this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous 
situations I was sometimes in among strangers, remote 
from the eye and advice of mj^ father, free from any wilful 
gross immorality or injustice, that might have been ex- 
pected from my want of religion. I say ivilful, because the 
instances I have mentioned had something of necessity in 
them, from my youth, inexperience, and the knavery of 
others. I had therefore a tolerable character to begin in 
the world with ; I valued it properly, and determined to 
preserve it. 

, We had not been long returned to Philadelphia, before 
the new typea arrived from London. We settled with 
Keimer, and left him by his consent before he heard of it. 
We found a house to let near the Market, and took it. 
To lessen the rent, which was then but twenty-four poimds 
a year, though I have since known it let for seventy, we 
took in Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who 
were to pay a considerable part of it to us, and we to board 
with them. We had scarce opened our letters, and put 
our press in order, before George House, an acquaintance 
of mine, brought a counti'yman to us, whom he had met 
in the street, inquiring for a printer. All our cash was 
now expended in the variety of particulars we had been 
obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings, 
being our fii'st-fruits, and coming so seasonablj-, gave me 
more pleasure than any crown I have since earned; and 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 71 

the gratitude I felt towards House has made me often more 
ready than perhaps I otherwise should have been to assist 
young beginners. 

There are croakers in every country, always boding its 
ruin. Such an one there lived in Philadelphia ; a person 
of note, an elderly man, with a wise look, and a very grave 
manner of speaking ; his name was Samuel Mickle. This 
gentleman, a stranger to me, stopped me one day at my 
door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately 
opened a new printing-house? Being answered in the 
affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an 
expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost ; for 
Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half 
bankrupts, or near being so ; all the appearances of the 
contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being 
to his certain knowledge fallacious ; for they were in fact 
among the things that would ruin us. Then he gave me 
such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon 
to exist, that he left me half melancholy. Had I known 
him before I engaged in this business, probably I never 
should have done it. This person continued to live in this 
decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing 
for many years to buy a house there, because all was going 
to destruction ; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him 
give five times as much for one, as he might have bought it 
for when he first began croaking. 



T^' BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



CHAPTER V. 



I SHOULD have mentioned before, that in the autumn of 
the preceding year I had formed most of mj' ingenious 
acquaintance into a club for mutual improvement, -which 
we called the Junto. We met on Friday evenings. The 
rules that I drew up required that every member, in his 
turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of 
Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discussed by 
the company ; and once in three months produce and read 
an essaj' of his own writing, on any subject he pleased. 
Our deljates were to be under the direction of a president, 
and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of enquiry after 
truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; 
and, to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in 
opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time 
made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary 
penalties. 

The first members were Joseph Breintnal, a copier of 
deeds for the scriveners, a good-natured, friendly, middle- 
aged man, a great lover of poetry, reading all he could 
meet with, and writing some that was tolerable ; very 
ingenious in making little nicknackeries, and of sensible 
conversation. 

Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, great in 
his way, and afterwards inventor of what is now called 
Haclley''s Quadrant* But he knew little out of his way, 
and was not a pleasing companion; as, like most great 
mathematicians I have met with, he expected universal 

* Godfrey's claims to this invention are fully explained and coa- 
finued in Miller's Ketrospect of the Eighteenth Century, Vol I, pp. 

438^80. 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 73 

precisiiin in everythiiifj siiid, or was for ever denying or 
distinguishing- upon trifles, to the disturbance of all conver- 
sation. He soon left us. 

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, afterwards surveyor-general, 
who loved books, and sometimes made a few verses. 

William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, 
had acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which 
he first studied with a view to astrology, and afterwards 
laughed at it. He also became surveyor-general. 

William Maugridge. joiner, but a most exquisite mechanic 
and a solid, sensible man. 

Hugh INIeredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, I have 
characterised before. 

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, 
generous, lively, and witty ; a lover of punning and of his 
friends. 

Lastly, William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, about 
my age, who had the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, 
and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met 
with. He became afterwards a merchant of great note, 
and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship con- 
tinued without interruption to his death, upwards of forty 
years ; and the club continued almost as long, and was the 
best school of philosophy, moi'ality, and politics, that then 
existed in the province ; for our queries, which were read 
the week preceding their discussion, put us upon reading 
with attention on the several subjects, that we might 
speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired 
better habits of conversation, everything being studied in 
our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other. 
Hence the long continuance of the club, which I shall have 
frequent occasion to speak further of hereafter. 

But my giving this account of it here is to show some- 
thing of the iutci'cst I had. every one of these exerting 
C^— 9G 



?4 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

themselves in rocommomling business to us. Brcintnal 
particularly procured us from the Quakers the printing 
of fortj'' sheets of their history, the rest being done by 
Keimer ; and upon these we worked exceedingly hard, for 
the price was low. It was a folio, pro patrid size, in pica, 
with long primer notes. I composed a sheet a day, and 
Meredith worked it off at press. It was often eleven at 
night, and sometimes later, before I had finished my dis- 
tribution for the next day's work ; for the little jobs sent in 
by our other friends now and then put us back. But so 
determined I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the 
folio, that one night, when having imposed my formes 1 
thought my day's work over, one of them by accident was 
broken, and two pages reduced to jne. I immediately 
distributed and composed it over again before I went to 
bed ; and this industry, visible to our neighbours, began to 
give us character and credit. Particularly I was told, 
that mention being made of the new printing-office, at the 
merchants' every-night club, the general opinion was that 
it must fail, there being already two printers in the place, 
Keimer and Bradford. But Dr. Baird (whom you and I 
saw manj' years after at his natiA^e place, St. Andrew's, in 
Scotland) gave a contrary opinion; "For the industry of 
that Franklin," said he, " is superior to anything I ever 
saw of the kind. I see him still at work when I go home 
from club, and he is at work again before his neighbours 
are out of bed." This struck the rest, and we soon after 
had offers from one of them to supply us with stationery ; 
but as yet we did not choose to engage in shop business. 

I mention this industrj^ more particularly and the more 
freely, though it seems to be talking in my own praise, that 
those of my posterit}' who shall read it, may know the use 
of that virtue, when they see its eilects in my favour 
throughout this relation. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN". 75 

George Webb, who had found a female friend that lent 
him wherewith to purchase his time of Keimer, now came 
to offer himself as a journejTnan to iis. We conld not then 
employ him ; but I foolishly let him know, as a secret, that 
I soon intended to begin a newspaper, and might then have 
work for him. My hopes of success, as I told him, were 
founded on this : that the then only newspaper, printed by 
Bradford, was a paltry thing, wretchedly managed, no way 
entertaining, and yet was profitaljle to him ; I therefore 
freely thought«a good paper would scarcely fail of good en- 
couragement. I requested Webb not to mention it ; but he 
told it to Keimer, who immediately, to he beforehand with 
me, published proposals for one himself, on which Webb 
was to be employed. I was vexed at this, and to counteract 
them, not being able to commence our paper, I wrote 
several amusing pieces for Bradford's paper, under the 
title of The Busy Body, which Breintnal continued some 
months. By this means the attention of the public was 
fixed on that paper, and Keimer's proposals, which we 
burlesqued and ridiculed, were disregarded. He began his 
paper, however, and before carrying it on three quarters of 
a year, with at most only ninety subscribers, he offered it 
me for a trifle ; and I, having been ready some time to go 
on with it, took it in hand directly, and it proved, in a few 
years, extremely profitable to me.* 

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number, 
though our partnership still continued ; it may be, that in 
fact the whole management of the business lay upon me. 
Meredith was no compositor, a poor press-man, and seldom 
sober. Mj'^ friends lamented my connection with him, but 
I was to make the best of it. 

Our first papers made quite a different appearance from 

* It was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin and Meredith 
began the paper with No. 40, Septeniher -'5th, 17"2y. 



Vb BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

any before in the province ; a better tj-pe and bettor 
printed ; but some remarks * of my writing, on the dispute 
then going on between Governor Burnet and the Massa- 
chusetts AssembI}-, struck the principal peojjle, occasioned 
the paper and the manager of it to be much talked of, and 
in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers. 

* These remarks are iu the Pennsylvania Gazette for October 2ud, 
1729, and are as follows :^ 

" His Excelleucy, Governor Burnet, died unexpectedly about two 
days after the date of this reply to his last message ; and it was 
thought the dispute would have ended with liim, or at least have 
lain dormant till the arrival of a new Governor from England, 
■who possibly might, or might not, be inclined to enter too vigor- 
ously into the measures of his predecessor. But our> last advices 
by the post acquaint us, that his Honoiu-, the Lieutenant-Governor, 
on whom the government immediately devolves upon the death 
or absence of the Commander-in-Chief, has vigorously renewed the 
struggle on his own account, of which the particulars will be seen 
iu our next. 

"Perhaps some of our readers may not fully understand the 
original ground of this warm contest between the Governor and 
Assembly. It seems that people have, for these hundred years past, 
enjoyed the piivilege of rewarding the Governor, for the time 
being, according to their sense of lii^ merit and services ; and few or 
none of their Governors have complained, or had cause to complain, 
of a scanty allowance. When thejlate Governor Burnet brought 
with him instructions to demand a scttUd satarij of one thousand 
pounds sterling per annum, on him and all bis successors, and the 
Assembly were required to fix it immediately, he insisted on it 
strenuously to the last, and they as constantly refused it. It ap- 
pears by their votes and proceedings, that they thought it au im- 
position, contrary to their own charter, and to Magna Charta; and 
they judged that there should be a mutual dependence between 
the Governor and governed; and that to make the Governor inde 
l)endent would be dangerous and destructive to their liberties, and 
the ready way to establish tyranny. They thought, likewise, that 
the province was not the less dependent on the Crown of Great 
Britain, by the Governor's depending immediately on them and 
his own good conduct i'<jr ;iu am'ple support ; because all acts and 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN; 7< 

Their example was followed by many, and our numlifr 
went on growing continually. This was one of the first 
good effects of my having learned a little to scribble ; an- 
other was, that the leading men, seeing a newspaper now in 
the hands of those who could also handle a pen, thought it 
convenient to oblige and encourage me. Bradford still 
printed the votes, and laws, and other public business. He 
had printed an address of the House to the Grovernor, in a 
coarse, hhmdering manner ; we reprinted it elegantly and 
correctly, and sent one to every member. They were 
sensible of the difference, it strengthened the hands of our 

laws, wliich he mig-ht be induced to pass, must nevertheless be con 
stantly sent home for approbation Iq order to continue in force. 
Many other reasons were given, and arguments used, in the course 
of the controversy, needless to particularise here, because all the 
material papers relating to it have been already given in our public 
news. 

"Much deserved praise has the deceased Governor received for 
his steady integrity in adhering to his instructions, notwithstanding 
the great difficulty and opposition he met with, and the strong 
temptations offered from time to time to induce him to give up the 
point. And yet, i^erhaps, something is dvie to the Assembly (as the 
love and zeal of that country for the present establishment is too 
weU known to suffer any suspicion of want of loyalty), who con- 
tinue thus resolutely to abide by what they think their right, and 
that of the people they represent ; maugre all the arts and menaces 
of a Governor famed for his cunning and politics, backed with in- 
structions from home, and powerfully aided by the great advan- 
tage such an officer always has of engaging the principal men of a 
place in his party, by conferring where he pleases so many ]X)sts of 
profit and honour. Their happy mother country will perhaps ob- 
serve with pleasure, that though her gallant cocks and matchless 
dogs abate their natural fire and intrejiidity, when transported to a 
foreign clime (as this nation is), yet her sons in the remotest part 
of the earth, and even to the third and fourth descent, still retain 
that ardent spirit of liberty, and that undaunted courage, which 
have, in every age, so gloriously distinguished Britons and 
Englishmen from the rest of mankind."— W. T. P. 



78 BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 

friends in the House, and they voted us their printers for 
the year ensuing. 

Among my friends in the House, I must not forget J\Ir. 
Hamilton, before mentioned, who was then returned fi-om 
England, and had a seat in it. He interested himself for 
me strongij' in that instance, as he did in many others after- 
wards, continuing his patronage till his death. 

]\Ir. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt 
I owed him, but did not press me. I wrote to him an in- 
genuous letter of acknowledgment, craving his forbearance 
a little longer, which he allowed me. As soon as I was able, 
I paid the principal with the interest, and many thanks ; so 
that erratum was in some degree corrected. 

But now another difficulty came upon me, which I had 
never the least reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's father, who 
was to have paid for our printing-house, according to the 
expectations given me, was able to advance only one hun- 
dred pounds currency, which had been paid; and a hundred 
more were due to" the merchant, who grew impatient and 
sued us all. We gave bail, but saw that if the money could 
not be raised in time, the suit must soon come to a judgment 
and execution, and our hopeful prospects must with us be 
ruined, as the press and letters must be sold for payment, 
perhaps at half price. 

In this distress two true friends, whose kindness I have 
never forgotten, nor ever shall forget while I can remember 
anything, came to me separately, unknown to each other ; 
and, without anj^ ajJiDlication from me, offered each of them 
to advance me aU. the money that should be necessary to 
enable me to take the whole business upon myself, if that 
should be practicable ; but they did not like my continuing 
the partnership with Meredith, who, as they said, was often 
seen drunk in the street, playing at low games in alehouses, 
much to our discredit. These two friends were William 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 79 

Coleman and Eobert Grace. I told them I could not pro- 
pose a separation while any prospect remained of the Mere- 
diths fulfilling their part of our agTeement, because I thought 
myself under gi-eat obligations to them for what they had 
done, and would do if they could ; but if they finally failed 
in their performance, and our partnership must be dissolved, 
I should then think myself at liberty to accept the assist- 
ance of my friends. 

Thus the matter rested for some time, when I said to my 
partner, " Perhaps your father is dissatisfied at the part you 
have undertaken in this affair of ours, and is unwilling to 
advance for you and me what he would for you. If that is 
the case tell me, and I will resign the whole to you, and go 
about my business." " No," said he, " my father has really 
been disappointed, and is really imable, and I am unwilling 
to distress him fui'ther. I see this is a business I am not fit 
for. I was bred a farmer, and it Avas folly in me to come to 
town and put myself, at thirty years of age, an apprentice to 
learn a new trade. ]\Iany of our Welsh people are going to 
settle in North Carolina, where land is cheap. I am in- 
clined to go with them, and follow my old employment ; you 
may find friends to assist you. If you will take the debts of 
the company upon you, return to my father the hundred 
pounds he has advanced, pay my little personal debts, and 
give me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish 
the partnership and leave the whole in your hands." I 
agreed to this proposal ; it was drawn up in writing, signed, 
and sealed immediately. I gave him what he demanded, and 
he went soon after to Carolina ; whence he sent me next 
year two long letters, containing the best account that had 
been given of that country, the climate, the soil, and 
husbandry, for in those matters he was very judicious. I 
])rinted them in the papers, and they gave great satisfaction 
to the public. 



80 BENJAMIN FRANKT.IN. 

As soon as he was gone I recurred to my two friends, and 
because I would not give an unkind preference to either, I 
took half of what each had offered and I wanted of one, and 
half of the other ; paid off the company's debts, and went on 
with the business in my own name, advertising that the 
partnership was dissolved. I think this was in or about the 
year 1729* 

About this time there was a cry among the people for 
more paper-money; only fifteen thousand pounds being ex- 
tant in the province, and that soon to be sunk. The wealthy 
inhabitants opposed any addition, being against all paper 
currency, from the apprehension that it would depreciate as 
it had done in New England, to the injury of all creditors. 
We had discussed this point in our Junto, where I was on 
the side of an addition, being persuaded that the first small 
sum, struck in 1723, had done much good by increasing the 
.trade, employment, and number of inhabitants in the 
jirovince, since I now saw all the old houses inhabited, and 
many new ones building ; whereas I remembered well, when 
I first walked about the streets of Philadelphia, eating 
my roll, I saw manj^ of the houses in Walnut Street, be- 
ween Second and Front Streets, with bills on their doors, 

* The dissolution of the partnership was a year later, as appears 
by the following agreement, transcribed from the original in 
Franklin's handwriting.— Ed. 

" Be it remembered, that Hugh Meredith and Benjamin Franklin 
liave this day separated as partners, and will henceforth act each on 
his own account ; and that the said Hngh Meredith, for a valuable 
consideration by him received from the said Benjamin Franklin, 
hath relinquished, and doth hereby relinquish, to the said Franklin, 
all claim, right, or property to or in the printing materials and stock 
heretofore jointly jjossessed by them in partnership ; and to alj 
debts due to them as partners, in the course of their business ; which 
are all from henceforth the sole property of the said Benjamin 
Franklin. In wituess whereof I have hereunto sot my hnnd, this 
11th day of July, 1730. Hugh Meredith." 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 81 

" To be let," and many likewise in Chestnut Street find other 
streets, which made me think the inhabitants of the city 
were, one after another, deserting it. 

Our debates possessed me so fully of the subject, that I 
wrote and printed an anonymous pamphlet on it, entitled. 
The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Carrencij* It was well 
received by the common people in general ; but the rich men 
disliked it, for it increased and strengthened the clamour for 
more money ; and, they happening to have no writers among 
them that were able to answer it, their opposition slackened, 
and the point was carried by a majority in the House. My 
friends there, who considered I had been of some service, 

• "It is little known, or set dovni to the commendation of 
Franklin, that, when he was yonug- in business, and stood in need 
of sundry articles in the line of his profession as a printer, he had 
the ingenuity to make them for himself. In this way he founded 
letters of lead, engraved various printing ornaments, cut wood-cuts, 
made printers' ink, engraved copperplate vignettes, and made his 
plate-press." — Watson's Annals of Philadelphia, p. 513. 

Mr. Watson relates another anecdote. He says, that the " yellow 
willow tree," now so common throughout the country, was first in- 
troduced into America hy Franklin. A wicker basket made of 
willow, in which some foreign article had been imported, he saw 
sprouting in a ditch, and directed some of the twigs to be planted. 
They took root, and from these shoots are supposed to have sprung 
all the yellow willows which have grown on this side of the 
Atlantic. 

Chaptal ascribes to Franklin, also, the introduction of the agri- 
cultural use of plaster of Paris into the United States. " As this 
celebrated philosopher," says he, " wshed that the effects of this 
manure should strike the gaze of all cultivators, he wrote in great 
letters, formed by the use of the ground plaster, in a field of clover 
lying upon the great road, ' Tliis has been plastered.' The prodigious 
vegetation, which was developed in the plastered portion, led him 
to adopt this method. Volumes upon the excellency of plaster 
would not liave produced so speedy a revolution. From that period 
the Americans have imported great quantities of plastei'of Paris." — 
Chaptal's Agricultural Chemistry, Boston edition, p. 73.— Ed. 



82 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

thought fit to reward me, by employing me in printing the 
money ; a very profitable job, and a great help to me. 
This was another advantage gained by my being able to 
write. 

The utility of this currency became by time and ex- 
perience so evident, that the principles upon which it was 
founded were never afterwards much disputed ; so that it 
grew soon to fifty-five thousand pounds : and in 1739, to 
eighty thousand pounds ; trade, building, and inhabitants 
all the while increasing. Though I now think there are 
limits beyond which the quantity may be hiu-tful. 

I soon after obtained, through my friend Hamilton, the 
printing of the Newcastle paper money, another profitable 
job, as I then thought it ; small things appearing great to 
those in small circumstances ; and these to me were really 
great advantages, as they were gxeat encouragements. 
Mr. Hamilton procured for me also the printing of the laws 
and votes of that government ; which continued in my 
hands as long as I followed the business. 

I now opened a small stationer's shop. I had in it blanks 
of aU kinds ; the correctest that ever appeared among us. I 
was assisted in that by my friend Breintnal. I had also 
paper, parchment, chapmen's books, &c. One "VNTiitemarsh, 
a compositor I had known in London, an excellent workman, 
now came to me, and worked with me constantly and dili- 
gently ; and I took an apprentice, the son of Aquila Rose. 

I began now graduall}^ to pay off the debt I was under for 
the printing-house. In order to secure my credit and cha- 
racter as a tradesman, I took care not only to be in reality 
industrious and frugal, but to avoid the appearances to the 
contrary. I dressed plain, and was seen at no places of idle 
diversion. I never went out a fishing or shooting; a book 
indeed sometimes debauched me from my work, but that 
vas seldom, was private, and gave no scandal ; and, to show 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, US 

that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought 
home the paper I purchased at the stores through the streets 
on a wheelbarrow. Thus being esteemed an industiious, 
thriving young man, and paying duly for what I bought, 
the merchants who imported stationery solicited my custom ; 
others proposed supplying me with books, and I went on 
prosperously. In the meantime, Keimer's credit and busi- 
ness declining daily, he was at last forced to sell his print- 
ing-house, to satisfy his creditors. He went to Barbadoes, 
and there lived some years in very poor circumstances. 

His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had instructed 
while I woriied with him, set up in his place at Philadelphia, 
having bought his materials. I was at ttrst apprehensive of 
a powerful rival in Hai-ry, as his friends were very able, 
and had a good deal of interest. I therefore proposed a 
partnersliip to him, which he fortunately for me rejected 
with scorn. He was very proud, dressed like a gentleman, 
lived expensively, took much diversion and pleasure abroad, 
ran in debt, and neglected his business ; upon which all 
business left him ; and, finding notliing to do, he followed 
Keimer to Barbadoes, taking the printing-house with him. 
There this apprentice employed his former master as a 
journeyman ; they quarrelled often, and Harry went con- 
tinually behindhand, and at length was obliged to sell his 
types and return to country work in Pennsylvania. The 
person who bought them employed Keimer to use them, but 
a few years after he died. 

There remained now no other printer in Philadelphia but 
the old Bradford ; but he was rich and easy, did a little in 
the business by straggling hands, but was not anxious about 
it. However, as he held the post-ofiice, it was imagined he 
had better opportunities of obtaining news, his paper was 
thought a better distributor of advertisements than mine, 
and thei'efore hud many more ; which was a profitable thing 



84 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

to him, and a disadvantage to me. For, thougli 1 did, indeed, 
receive and send papers by the post, yet the public opinion 
was otherwise ; for what I did send was by bribing the riders, 
who took them privately ; Bradford beinfj imkind enough to 
forbid it, which occasioned some resentment on my part ; and 
[ thought so meanly of the practice, that, when I afterwards 
came into his situation, I took care never to imitate it. 

I had hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who lived 
in a part of my house, with his wife and children, and had 
one side of the shop for his glazier's business, though he 
worked little, being always absorbed in his mathematics. 
Mrs. Godfrey projected a match for me, with 'a relation's 
daughter, took opportunities of Ijringing us often together, 
till a serious courtship on my j:)art ensued, the girl being in 
herself very deserving. The old folks encoiu-aged me by 
continual invitations to supper, and by lea\'ing us together, 
till at length it was time to explain. Mrs. Godfrey 
managed our little treaty. I let her know that I exi^ected 
as much money with their ' daughter as would pay off my 
remaining debt for the printing-house ; which I believe was 
not then above a hundred pounds. She brought me word 
they had no such sum to spare. I said they might mort- 
gage their house in the loan-office. The answer to this, 
after some days, was, that they did not approve the match ; 
that, on inquiry of Bradford, they had been informed the 
printing business was not a profitable one, the types would 
soon be worn out and more wanted ; that Keimer and 
David Harry had failed one after the other, and I should 
probably soon follow them ; and therefore I was forbidden 
the house, and the daughter was shut up. 

Whether this was a real change of sentiment or only arti- 
fice, on a supposition of our being too far engaged in affection 
to retract, and therefore that we should steal a marriage, 
which would leave them at liberty to give or withhold what 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. »0 

they pleased, I know not. But I suspected the motive, re- 
sented it, and went no more. IMrs. Godfrey brought me 
afterwards some more favourable accounts of their disposi- 
tion, and would have drawn me on again, but I declared ab- 
solutely my resolution to have nothing more to do with tliat 
family. This was resented by the Godfreys, we differed, 
and they removed, leaving me the whole house, and I re- 
solved to take no more inmates. 

But tliis affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I 
looked round me and made overtures of acquaintance in 
other places, but soon found, that, the business of a printer 
being generally thought a poor one, I was not to expect 
money with a wife, unless with such a one as I should not 
otiierwise think agreeable. In the meantime, that hard 
to be governed passion of youth had hurried me fi-equently 
into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which 
were attended with some expense and great inconvenience, 
besides a continual risk to my health by a distemper, 
which of all things I dreaded, though by great good luck I 
escaped it. 

A friendly correspondence as neighbours had continued 
between mo and Miss Road's family, who all had a regard 
for me from the time of my first lodging in their house. I 
was often invited there and consulted in their affairs, 
wherein I sometimes was of service. I pitied poor IMiss 
Read's unfortunate situation, who was generally dejected, 
seldom cheerful, and avoided company. I considered my 
giddiness and inconstancy when in London, as, in a great 
degree, the cause of her unhappiness ; though the mother 
was good enough to think the fault more her own than 
mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went 
thither, and persuaded the other match in my absence. Our 
mutual affection was revived, but there were now great 
objections to our union. That match was indeed looked 



m BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living 
in England, but this could not easily be proved, because 
of the distance, &c. ; and, though there was a report of his 
death, it was not certain. Then, though it should be 
true, ho had left many debts, which his successor might be 
called upon to pay. We ventured, however, over all these 
difficulties, and I took her to wife, September 1st, 1730. 
None of the inconveniences happened that we had appre- 
hended. She proved a good and faithful helpmate, 
assisted me much by attending to the shop; we thi'ove 
together, and ever mutually endeavoured to make each 
other happy. Thus I corrected that great erratum as well 
as I could. 

About this time, our club meeting, not at a tavern, but in 
a little room of Mr. Grace'p, set apart for that purpose, a 
proposition was made by me that, since our books were 
often referred to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it 
might be convenient to us to have them all together where 
we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted ; and 
by thus clubbing our books in a common librarj"-, we 
should, while we liked to keep them together, have each of 
us the advantage of using the books of all the other mem- 
bers, which would bo nearly as beneficial as if each owned 
the whole. It was liked and agreed to, and we filled one 
end of the room with such books as we could best spare. 
The number was not so great as we expected, and, though 
they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences oc- 
curring for want of due care of them, the collection, after 
about a year, was separated, and each took his books home 
again. 

And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature 
~-that for a subscription library. I drew up the proposals, 
got them put into form by our great scrivener, Brockdcn. 
.'ind by the help of my friends in the Junto, procured fiflv 



•BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 87 

siibscribei-s of forty shillings each to begin with, and ten 
shillings a year for fifty years, the term our company was 
to continue. We afterwards obtained a charter, the com- 
pany being increased to one hundred. This was the mother 
of all the North American subscription libraries, now so 
numerous ; it is become a great thing itself, and continually 
goes on increasing. These libraries have improved the 
general conversation of the Americans, made the common 
tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from 
other countries, and perhaps have contributed in so7ne degree 
to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in 
defence of their privileges. 



CHAPTER VI.* 

At the time I ostaljlished myself in Pennsylvania, there 
was not a good bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to 
the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia, 
the printers were indeed stationers, but they sold only 
paper, almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. 
Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their 
books from England ; the members of the Junto had 
each a few. We had left the alehouse, where we first 
met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed 
that we should all of us bring our books to that room, 

* Down to this period the Memoii- was written in the year 1771. 
and the task was then laid aside for several years. In the mean; 
time, the mannscrijit was shown to several of the author's friends, 
who ijressed liim to complete what he had begun. He accordingly 
yielded to their solicitations, and, to the part with which this 
chapter commences, he prefixed the following introductory remarks, 
and also the two letters to which he alludes. 



8a 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



where they would not only be ready to consult in our 
conferences, hut hecome a common henefit, each of us 
being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at 
home. This was accordingly done, and for some time 
contented us. 

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed 
to render the benefit from the books more common, by com- 
mencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of 
the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skilful 
conveyancer, Mr. Charles Bx-ockden, to put the whole in 
form of articles of agreement to be subscribed ; by which 
each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the 
first purchase of the books, and an annual contribution for 
increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in 
Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not 
able, with great industry, to find more than fifty persons, 
mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this pur- 
pose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. 
With this little fund we began. The books were imported. 
The library was opened one day in the week for lending 
them to subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double 
the value if not duly returned. The institution soon mani- 
fested its utility, was imitated by other towns, and in 
other provinces. The libraries were augmented by dona- 
tions, reading became fashionable ; and our j)eople, having 
no public amusements to divert their attention from studj-, 
became better acquainted with books, and in a few years 
were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more 
intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in 
other countries. 

When wo were about to sign the above-mentioned 
articles, which were to be binding on us, our heirs, &c., 
for fifty years, Mr. Broclvdon, the scrivener, said to us 
" You ai'c young men, but it is scarcely probable tliat any 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 89 

of j''OU will live to see the expiration of the term fixed in 
tlie instrument." A numher of us, however, are yet 
living ; hut the instrument was after a few years rendered 
null, hy a charter that incorporated and gave perpetuity to 
the company. 

The ohjections and reluctances I met with in soliciting 
the suhscriptions made me soon feel the impropriety of 
presenting one's self as the proposer of any useful project 
that might be supposed to raise one's reputation in the 
smallest degree above that of one's neighbours, when one 
has need of their assistance to accomplish that project. I 
therefore put myself as much as I could out of sight, and 
stated it to be a scheme of a 'rMinber of friends, who had 
requested me to go about and propose it to such as they 
thought lovers of reading. In this way my affair went on 
more smoothly, and I ever after practised it on such 
occasions ; and from my frequent successes, can heartily 
recommend it. The present little sacrifice of your vanity 
will afterwards be amply repaid. If it remains a while 
imcertain to whom the merit belongs, some one more vain 
than yourself may be encouraged to claim it, and then 
even envy will be disposed to do j-ou justice, by plucking 
those assumed feathers, and restoring them to their right 
owner. 

This library afforded me the means of improvement by 
constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each 
day, and thus repaired in some degree the loss of the 
learned education my father once intended for me. 
Reading was the only amusement I allowed myself. I 
spent no time in taverns, games, or frolics of any kind ; 
and my industry in my business continued as indefatigable 
as it was necessary. I was indebted for my printing- 
house ; I had a young family coming on to be educated, 
and I had two competitors to contend with for business 



90 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

who were established in the place before me. My circum- 
stances, however, grew daily easier. My original habits of 
frugality continuing, and my father having, among his in- 
structions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb 
of Solomon, " Seest thou a man diligent in his codling, he 
shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men,^^ 
[ thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth 
and distinction, which encouraged me, — though I did not 
think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which, 
however, has since happened ; for I have stood before Jive, 
and even had the honour of sitting down with one, the 
King of Denmark, to dinner. 

AVe have an English proverb that says, " He that would 
thrive must ask his wifey It was lucky for me that I had one 
as much disposed to industry and frugality as myself. She 
assisted me cheerfullj'- in my business, folding and stitching 
pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing old linen rags for the 
paper-makers, &c. We kept no idle servants, our table 
was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest. For 
instance, my breakfast was for a long time bread and milk, 
(no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer, 
with a pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will enter 
families, and make a progress, in spite of principle ; being 
called one morning to breakfast, I found it in a china bowl, 
with a spoon of silver ! They had been bought for me with- 
out my knowledge, by my wife, and had cost her the enor- 
mous sum of three and twenty shilling-s, for which she had 
no other excuse or apology to make, but that she thought 
her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl as well 
as any of his neighbours. This was the first appearance 
of plate and china in our house ; which afterwards, in a 
course of years, as our wealth increased, augmented 
gradually to several hundred poimds in value. 

I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian ; but 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 91 

though some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as 
the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, ^-c, appeared 
to me unintelligihle, others douhtful, and I early absented 
myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday 
being my studying day, I never was without some 
religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the 
existence of a Deity — that he made the world and governed 
it by his providence — that the most acceptable service of 
God was the doing good to man — that our souls are im- 
mortal — and that all crimes wlU be punished, and virtue 
rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteemed the 
essentials o* every religion ; and, being to be found in all 
the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, 
though with different degrees of respect, as I found them 
more or less mixed with other articles, which, without any 
tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served 
principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one 
another. This respect to all, with an opinion that the 
worst had some good effects, induced me to avoid all dis- 
course that might tend to lessen the good opinion another 
might have of his own religion, and as our province 
increased in people, and new places of worship were con- 
tinually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contri- 
bution, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the 
sect, was never refused. 

Though I seldom attended any public worship, I had 
still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility, when 
rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual sub- 
scription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister 
or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He used to visit me 
sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his 
administrations ; and I was now and then prevailed on to 
do so ; once for five Sundays successively. Had he been in 
mj' opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have 



!»2 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

continued, notwithstanding the occasion I had for Sunday's 
leisure in my course of study ; but his discourses were 
chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of the 
peculiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very 
dry, uninteresting, and unedifying ; since not a single 
moral principle was inculcated or enforced; their aim 
seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good 
citizens. 

At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth 
chapter to the Philippians : ^^ Finally, brethren, whatsoever 
things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if 
there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things.'''' 
And I imagined, in a sermon on such a text, we could not 
miss of having some moralitj-. But he confined himself to 
five points only, as meant by the apostle : 1. Keeping holy 
the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy 
Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the public worship. 4. 
Partaking of the Sacrament. ' 5. Paying a due respect to 
God's ministers. These might be all good things ; but, as 
they were not the kind of good things that I expected from 
that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them f^om any 
other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. 
I had some years before composed a little liturgy or form 
of jjrayer, for my own private use (in 1728), entitled, 
Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. I returned to the 
use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies. 
My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without 
attempting fm-ther to excuse it ; my present jjurpose 
being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for 
them. 

It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous 
project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live 
without committing any fault at any time, and to conquer 
all that either natural inclination, custom, or company, 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 93 

might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what 
^v•;ls light and wrong, I did not see why I might not alicayx 
do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had 
undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. 
While my attention was taken up, and care employed in 
guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another ; 
habit took the advantage of inattention ; inclination was 
sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded at length, 
that the mere speculative conviction, that it was our in- 
terest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to pre- 
vent our slipping ; and that the contrary habits must be 
broken, and good ones acquired and established, liefore we 
can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of 
conduct. For this purpose I therefore tried the following 
method. 

In the various enumerations of the moral viriues I had 
met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less 
numcroiis, as different writers included more or fewer ideas 
under the same name. Temperance, for example, was by 
some confined to eating and drinking ; while by others it 
was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure, 
appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to 
our avarice and ambition. I proposed to myself, for the 
sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas 
annexed to each, than a few names with more ideas ; and I 
included under thirteen names of virtues, all that at that time 
occurred to me as necessary or desirable ; and annexed to 
each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I gave 
to its meaning. 

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were : 

1. Temperance.— Eat not to dulness ; drink not to ele- 
vation. 

2. Silence. — Speak not but what may benefit others or 
yourself ; avoid trifling conveisation. 



94 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

3. Order. — Let all youi' things have their places; let each 
part of your business have its time. 

4. Hesolution. — Eesolve to perform what you ought ; 
perform without fail what you resolve. 

5. Frugality. — Make no expense but to do good to 
others or yourself ; that is, waste nothing. 

6. Industry. — Lose no time ; be always employed in 
something useful ; cut off all unnecessary actions. 

7. Sincerity. — Use no hurtful deceit ; think innocently 
and justly ; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 

8. Justice. — Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting 
the benefits that are your duty. 

9. Moderation. — Avoid extremes ; forbear resenting in- 
juries, so much as you think they deserve. 

10. Cleanliness. — Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, 
clothes, or habitation. 

11. Tranquillity. — Be not disturbed at trifles, or at ac- 
cidents common or unavoidable. 

12. Chastity 

13. Humility. — Imitate Jesus and Socrates. 

My intention being to acquire the habit ude of all these 
virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my atten- 
tion by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of 
them at a time ; and, when I should be master of that, then 
to proceed to another ; and so on, till I should have gono 
through the thirteen. And, as the pre\dous acquisition of 
some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I 
arranged them with that view, as they stand above. Tem- 
perance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clear- 
ness of head which is so necessary, where constant vigilance 
was to be kept tip, and a guard maintained against the un- 
remitting attraction of ancient habits and the force of 
perpetual temptations. This being acquired and established. 
Silence would be more easy ; and my desire being to gain 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. ifb 

knowledge, at the same time that I improved in virtue, and 
considering that in conversation it was obtained rather by 
the use of the ear than of the tongue, and therefore wishing 
to break a habit T was getting into of prattling, punning, 
and jesting, which only made me acceptable to trifling 
company, I gave Silence the second place. This and the 
next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for at- 
tending to my project and my studies. Resolution, once 
become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavours to 
obtain all the subsequent virtues ; Frugality and Industry 
relieving me from my remaining debt, and producing afflu- 
ence and independence, would make more easy the practice 
of Sincerity and Justice, &c., &c. Conceiving then, that, 
agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, 
daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the fol- 
lowing method for conducting that examination. 

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each 
of the virtues. I ruled each page with red ink, so as to 
have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking 
each column with a letter for the day. I crossed these 
columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of 
each line with the first letter of one of the virtues ; on which 
line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little 
black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have 
been committed respecting that virtue, upon that day.* 

I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of 
the virtues successivelj'^. Thus, in the first week, my great 
guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temper- 
ance ; leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, 
only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in 
the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of 
Hpots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much 
strengthened, and its opposite weakened, that I might 

* This little book is dated Sunday, 1st July, 1733.— W. T. F. 



96 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



venture extending my attention to include the next, and for 
the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Pro- 
ceeding thus to the last, I could get through a course com- 
plete in thirteen weeks, and four coursf-s in a year. And 
like him, who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt 
to eradicate all the had herbs at once, which would exceed 
his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at 
a time, and, having accomplished the first, proceeds to the 
second ; so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure 
of seeing on my pages the progress made in virtue, by 
clearing successively my lines of their spots ; till in the end. 



FOEM OF THE PAGES. 

TEMPEHANCE. 

Eat not to did/u'.sn ; drink nut to elevation. 





Suu. 


M. 1 T. 


W. 1 Til. F. ' S. 


Tern. 




1 


' 


Sil. 


* 


* 1 


j » ; 


Ord. 


* 


* 




* 


* I • 


Kes. 




* 


1 


* 


Frii. 




* 




i * 


Ind. 






' 


i 


Sine. 








i ' 
1 i 


Jus. 








1 ! 


Mod. 








i i 1 


Clea. 








1 i 1 


Tran. 








1 ! 1 


Chas. 






1 i 1 


Hum. 


i 


1 



BKNJAMIN FRANKLIN. 97 

by a num'ber of courses, I should be happy in viewing . a 
clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination. 

This my little book had for its motto, these lines from 
Addison's Cato : 

" Here will I hold. If there's a power abote us, 
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud 
Through all her works,) He must deUght in virtue ; 
And that which he delights in must be happy." 

Another from Cicero : 

"Ovitre Philosophia dux ! O virtutum indagatrix expulti-ixquo 
vitiorum ! Unus dies, bene et ex prfficeptis tuis actus, peccanti im- 
mortalitati est antepouendus." 

Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom 
or virtue : 

" Length of days is iu her right hand, and in her left hand riches 
andlionour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths 
are peace." 

And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I 
thought it right and necessary to solicit his assistance for 
obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little 
prayer, which was prefixed to my tables of examination, for 
daUy use : 

O powerful Gooducss ! bountiful Father ! merciful Guide ! In- 
crease iu uie that wisdom, which discovers my truest interest. 
Strengthen my resolution to perform what that wisdom dictates. 
Accept my Hud offices to thy other children, as the only return in 
my power for thy continual favours to me." 

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from 
Thomson's Poems, viz., 

" Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme ! 
O teach me what is good ; teach me Thyself ! 
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice, 
From every low pursuit ; and feed my soul 
"With knowledge, conscious jieace, and virtue pure ; 
gacred, substantial uever-fadiug bliss I " 
D— U6 



y» BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

The precept of Order requiring that every •part of my busi- 
ness slwnld have its allotted time, one page in my little book 
contained the following scheme of employment for the 
twenty-four hours of a natural day. 

I entered upon the execution of this plan for self-examina- 
tion, and continued it with occasional intermissions for some 
time. I was sur^jrised to find myself so much fuller of faults 
than I had imagined ; but I had the satisfaction of seeing 
them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and 
then my little book, which, by scraping out the marks on 
the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new 
course, became full of holes, I transferred my tables and 
precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which 
the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable 

SCETEME. 



Morning. f 5") Rise, wash, and address Power- 

The Question. "What good 1 6 ful Goodness I Contrive day's 

shall I do this day ? ■< i- business, and take the resolution 

j 7 of the day ; prosecute the present 

L J study, and breakfast. 

{.l^> Work. 



12 \ Read, or look over my ac- 
1 )" counts, and diue. 



Work. 



Evening. r eS Put things in their places. 

The Question. What good \ T I Supper. Music or diversion, or 
have I done to-day ? ] ^\ conversation. Examination of 

(. 9) the day. 



Sleep. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. yy 

stain ; and on those lines I marked my faults with a black- 
lead pencil ; which marks I could easily wipe out with a 
wet sponge. After awhile I went through one course only 
in a year; and afterwards only one in several years, 
tiU at length I omitted them entirely, being employed in 
voyages and business abroad with a multiplicitj^ of affairs 
that interfered ; but I always carried my Httle book with 
me. 

My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble : and I 
found, that, though it might be practicable where a man's 
business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, 
that of a journeyman printer for instance, it was not possible 
to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the 
world, and often receive people of business at their own 
hours. Order, too, with regard to places for things, papers, 
&c., I found extremely difficult to acquiio. I had not been 
early accustomed to method, and, having an exceedingly good 
memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attend- 
ing want of method. This article, therefore, cost me much 
painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, 
and I made so little progress in amendment, and had such 
frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the 
attempt, and content myself with a faultj' character in that 
respect. Like the man, who, in buying an axe of a smith, 
my neighbour, desired to have the whole of its surface as 
bright as the edge. The smith consented to grind it bright 
for him, if he would turn the wheel ; he tuined, while the 
smith pressed the broad face of the axe hard and heavily 
on the stone which made the turning of it very fatiguing. 
The man came every now and then from the wheel to see 
how the work went on ; and at length would take his axe 
as it was, without further grinding. "No," said the smith, 
" turn on, turn on, we shall have it bright by-and-by ; as yet 
it is only speckled." " Yes," said the man, " but / think I 



100 BENJAMIN FRANKLIjif. 

like a speckled axe besi^ Aiid I believe this may have been 
the case with many, who, having for want of some sucli 
means as I employed found the difficulty of obtaining good 
and breaking bad habits in other points of -vice and virtue 
have given up the struggle, and concluded that " a speck- 
led axe is best" For something, that pretended to be 
reason, was every now and then suggesting to me, that 
such extreme nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind 
of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make 
me ridiculous ; that a perfect character might be attended 
"with the inconvenience of being envied and hated ; and that 
a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself to 
keep his friends in countenance. 

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to 
Order ; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I 
feel very sensibly the want of it. But on the whole, though 
I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of 
obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, bj- the endeav- 
our, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should 
have been, if I had not attempted it ; as those who aim at 
perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, though 
they never reach the wished-for excellence of those copies, 
their hand is mended by the endeavour, and is tolerable 
while it continues fair and legible. 

It may be well my posterity should be informed, that to 
this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor 
owed the constant felicity of his life, down to his seventy- 
ninth year, in which this is written. What reverses may 
attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence ; but, if 
they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoyed ought 
to help his bearing them with more resignation. To Tem- 
perance he ascribes his long continued health, and what is 
still left to him of a good constitution ; to Industry andFrngal- 
ify the early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 101 

his fortune, with all that knowledge that enabled him to be 
a useful citizen, and obtained for him some degree of repu- 
tation among the learned ; to Sincerity and Justice, the con- 
fidence of his country, and the honourable employs it con- 
ferred -upon him ; and to the joint influence of the whole 
mass of the vii-tues, even in the imperfect state he was able 
to acquire them, aU that evenness of temper, and that cheer- 
f idness in conversation, which makes his company still sought 
for, and agreeable even to his young acquaintance. I hope, 
therefore, that some of my descendants may foUow the 
example and reap the benefit. 

It will be remaiked, that, though my scheme was not 
wholly without religion, there was in it no mark of any of 
the distinguishing tenets of any particular sect. I had pur- 
posely avoided them ; for, being fully persuaded of the utilitj' 
and excellency of my method, and that it might be serviceable 
to people in all religions, and intending some time or other 
to publish it, I would not have anything in it that should 
prejudice any one, of any sect, against it. I proposed writ- 
ing a little comment on each virtue, in which I would have 
shown the advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs 
attending its opposite vice ; I should have called mj' book 
'I'he Art of Virtue, because it would have shown the means 
and manner of obtaining virtue, which would have distin- 
guished it from the mere exhortation to be good, tliat does 
not instruct and indicate the means ; but is like the Apostle's 
man of verbal charity, who, without showing to the naked 
and hungry how or where they might get clothes or 
victuals, only exhorted them to be fed and clothed. Judivk 
ii. lo, 10. 

But it so happened that my intention of writing and pub- 
lishing this comment was never fulfilled. I had, indeed, 
from time to time, put down short hints of the sentiments 
and reasonings to bo made use of in it ; some of which 1 



102 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

have still by me ; but the necessary close attention to pri- 
vate business in the earlier part of life, and public business 
since, have occasioned my postponing it. For, it being 
connected in my mind with a great and extensive project, that 
required the whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen 
succession of employs prevented my attending to, it has. 
hitherto remained unfinished. 

In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce 
this doctrine, that vicious actions are not hurtful because they 
are forbidden, but forbidden because they are hurtful, the 
nature of man alone considered; that it was, therefore, 
everyone's interest to be virtuous, who wished to be happy 
even in this world ; and I should from this circumstance 
(there being always in the world a number of rich mer- 
chants, nobility, states, and priaces, who have need of 
houest instruments for the management of their affairs, 
and such being so rare) have endeavoured to con\'ince 
young persons that no qualities are so likely to make a poor 
man's fortune as those oi probity and integrity. 

My list of virtues contained at first but twelve ; but a 
Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was 
generally thought proud ; that my pride showed itself fre- 
quently in conversation ; that I was not content with being 
in the right when discussing any point, but was overbear- 
ing, and rather insolent, of which he convinced me by 
mentioning several instances ; I determined to endeavour 
to cui-e myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the 
rest ; and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive 
meaning to the word. 

I cannot boast of much success in acquii-ing the reality of 
this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the 
appearance of it. I made it a rule to forbear aU direct 
contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all 250sitive 
assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, agreeably to 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 103 

the old laws of our Jiinto, the use of every word or expres- 
sion in the language that imported a iixed opinion ; such as 
certainly, undoubtedly, &c., and I adopted instead of them, 
/ conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine, a tiling to be so or so ; 
or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted 
something that I thought an error, I denied myself the 
pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing 
immediately some absurdity in his proposition ; and in 
answering I began by observing, that, in certain cases or 
cu'cumstances, his- opinion would be right, but in the 
present case there appeared or seemed to me some difference, 
&c. I soon found the advantage of this change in my 
manners ; the conversations I engaged in went on more 
pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my 
opinions, procui-ed them a readier reception and less con- 
tradiction ; I had less mortification, when I was found to be 
in the wrong ; and I more easily prevailed with others to 
give lip their mistakes and join with me, when I happened 
to be in the right. 

And this mode, which I at fii'st put on with some violence 
to natural inclination, became at length easy, and so 
habitual to me, that perhaps for the last fifty years no one 
has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to 
this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it prin- 
cipally owing that I had early so much weight with my 
fellow-citizens, when I proposed new institutions or altera- 
tions in the old ; and so much influence in public councils, 
when I became a member ; for I was but a bad speaker, 
never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of 
words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally 
carried my point. 

In reality there is, perhaps, no one of oui" natural passions 
so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, 
stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, 



104 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

and will every now and then peep out and show itself ; j'ou 
will see it, perhaps, often in this history. For, even if I 
could conceive that I had completelj' overcome it, I should 
prohahly he proud of my himility. 



CHAPTER VII. . 

Having mentioned a great mid extensive project, which I had 
conceived, it seems proper that some account should he 
here given of that project and its object. Its first rise in 
my mind appears in the following little paper, accidentally 
preserved, viz : 

" Ohservations on my reading historxi in the Lihraii-y, May 9th, 1731. 

" That the great affair.s of the world, the wars and revohitions, 
are carried on and effected by parties. 

" That the view of these parties is their present general interest, 
or wliat they take to be such. 

" That the different views of these different parties occasion all 
confusion. 

" That while a party is carrying: on a general design, each man 
has his particular private interest in view. 

" That as soon as a party has gained its general point, each 
member becomes intent upon his particular interest ; which, 
tliwarting others, breaks that party into divisions, and occasions 
more confusion. 

" That few in public affairs act from a mere view of the good of 
their country, whatever they may pretend ; and, thougli their 
actings hring real good to their country, yet men primarily consi- 
dered that their own and their country's interest were united, and 
so did not act from a principle of benevolence. 

" That fewer still in public affairs act with a view to the good of 
mankind. 

" There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a 
United Paytij for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of 
all nations into a regular body, to be governed by suitable good and 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 105 

«ise rules, which good and wise men may probahly be more 
unanimous in their obedience to than common i)eople are to 
common laws. 

" I at present think that whoever attempts this aright, and is 
well qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God and of meeting with 
success." 

Kevolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaken 
hereafter, when my circumstances should afford me the 
necessary leisirre, I put dowTi from time to time on pieces 
of paper such thoughts as occurred to me respecting it. 
Most of these are lost ; hut I find one purporting to be the 
substance of an intended creed, containing, as I thought, 
the essentials of every known religion, and being free of 
everything that might shock the professors of any religion. 
It is expressed in these words ; viz : 

" That there is one God, who made all things. 

" That He governs the world by His providence. 

" That He ought to he worshipped by adoration, prayer, and 
thanksgiving. 

" But that the most acceptable service to God is doing good to 
man. 

" That the soul is immortal. 

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, 
either here or hereafter." 

My ideas at that time were that the sect should be 
begun and spread at first among young and single men 
only ; that each person to be initiated should not only 
declare his assent to such creed, but should have exercised 
himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and practice 
of the vii'tues, as in the before-mentioned model ; that the 
existence of such a society should be kept a secret, tiU it 
was become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the 
admission of improper persons ; but tliat the members 
should, each of them, search among his acquaintance for 
ingenious, well-dispo.sed youths, to whom, with prudent 



106 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

.caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated. 
That the members should engage to afford their advice, 
assistance, and support to each other in promoting one 
another's interest, business, and advancement in life. 
That, for distinction, we should be called the societt or 
THE FREE AND EASY. Free, as being, by the general 
practice and habits of the virtues, free from the dominion 
of vice ; and particularly, by the practice of industry and 
frugality, free from debt, which exposes a man to con- 
straint, and a species of slavery to his creditors. 

This is as much as I can now recollect of the project, 
except that I communicated it in part to two young men 
who adopted it with some enthusiasm ; but my then narrow 
circimistances, and the necessity I was under of sticking 
close to my business, occasioned my postponing the further 
prosecution of it at that time ; and my multifarious occu- 
pations, public and private, induced me to continue post- 
poning, so that it has been omitted, till I have no longer 
strength or activity left sufficient for such an enterprise. 
Though I am still of opinion it was a practicable scheme, 
and might have been very useful, by forming a gi-eat 
number of good citizens ; and I was not discouraged by the 
seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have always 
thought, that one man of tolerable abilities may work great 
changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if 
he first forms a good plan ; and, cutting off all amusements 
or other employments, that would divert his attention, 
makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and 
business. 

In 1732, I first published my Almanac, under the name 
of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty- 
five years, and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. 
I endeavom-ed to make it both entertaining and useful, 
and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I 



jEN.JAMIN FRANKLIN. 



107 



reaped considerable j)rofit from it : vending annually near 
ten thousand. And observing that it was generally read, 
scarce any neighbourhood in the province being without 
it, I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying in- 
struction among the common people, who bought scarcely 
any other books. I therefore filled all the little spaces, 
that occurred between the remarkable days in the Calendar, 
with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated in- 
dustry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, 
and thereby securing virtue ; it being more difficult for 
a man in want to act always honestly, as, to use here one of 
those proverbs, it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright. 

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many 
ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a connected 
discourse prefixed to the Almanac of 1757, as the harangue 
of a vdse old man to the people attending an auction. 
The bringing all these scattered counsels thus into a focus, 
enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, 
being universally approved, was copied in all the news- 
papers of the American Continent, rei^rinted in Britain on 
a large sheet of paper, to be stuck up in houses ; two trans- 
lations were made of it in France, and great numbers bought 
by the clergy and gentry, to distribute gratis among their 
poor parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it dis- 
coui'aged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some 
thought it had its share of influence in producing that 
growing plenty of money, which was observable for several 
years after its pxiblication. 

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means of 
communicating instruction, and in that view, frequently 
reprinted in it extracts from the Spectator, and other moral 
writers ; and sometimes published little pieces of my own, 
which had been first composed for reading in our Junto. 
Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove, that. 



108 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could 
not properly be called a man of sense ; and a discourse on 
self-denial, showing that virtue was not secure, till its prac- 
tice became a habitude, and was free fror-i the opposition of 
contrary [inclinations. These may be fourid in the papers 
about the beginning of 1735. 

In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all 
libelling and personal abuse, which is of late years become 
so disgraceful to our country. "Whenever I was solicited 
to insert anything of that kind, and the writers pleaded, 
as they generally did, the liberty of the press — -and that a 
newspaper was like a stage-coach, in which any one who 
would pay had a right to a place — my answer was, that I 
would print the piece separately if desired, and the author 
might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute him- 
self, but that I would not take upon me to spread his de- 
traction, and that, having contracted with my subscribers 
to furnish them with what might be either useful or enter- 
taining, I could not fill their papers with private alterca- 
tion, in which thej'^ had no concern, without doing them 
manifest injustice. Now, many of our printers make no 
scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals, by false 
accusations of the fairest characters among oui-selves, 
augmenting animositj' even to the producing of duels ; and 
are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections 
on the government of neighbouring states, and even on the 
conduct of our best national allies, which maj- be attended 
with the most pernicious consequences. These things I 
mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may 
be encouraged not to pollute thjir presses, and disgrace 
their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse 
steadil}^ ; as they may see by my example, that such a 
course of conduct will not on the whole be injurious to their 
interests. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 109 

In 1733, I sent one of my journeymou to Ohailt'ston, 
South Carolina, where a printer was wanting. I furnished 
him with a press and letters, on an agreement of partner- 
ship, by which I was to receive one-third of the profits 
of the business, paying one-third of the expense. He 
was a man of learning, but ignorant in matters of ac- 
count; and, though he sometimes made me remittances, 
I could get no account from him, nor any satisfactory 
state of our partnershijj while he lived. On his »iecease, 
the business was continued by his widow, who, being born 
and bred in Holland, where, as I have been informed, 
the knowledge of accounts makes a part of female educa- 
tion, she not only sent me as clear a statement as she 
could find of the transactions past, but continued to ac- 
count with the gTeatest regularity and exactness every 
quarter afterwards, and managed the business with such 
success, that she not only reputably brought up a family 
of children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able 
to purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her son 
in it. 

I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recommending 
that branch of education for our young women, as likely to 
be of more use to them and their children, in case of widow- 
hood, than either music or dancing ; by preserving them from 
losses by iniposition of crafty men, and enabling them to con- 
tinue, perhaps, a profitable mercantile house, with estab- 
lished correspondence, till a son is grown up fit to undertake 
and go on with it, to the lasting advantage and enriching of 
the family. 

About the year 1734, there arrived among us a young 
Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who delivered with 
a good voice, and apparently extempore, most excellent dis- 
courses, which drew together considerable numbers of dif- 
ferent persuasions, who joined in admiring them. Among 



110 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the rest, I became one of his constant hearers, his sermons 
pleasing me, as they had little of the dogmatical kind, but 
inculcated strongly the practice of virtue, or what in the 
religious style are called good works. Those, however, of 
our congregation, who considered themselves as orthodox 
Presb^-terians, disapproved his doctrine, and were joiaed by 
most of the old ministers, who arraigned him of heterodoxy 
before the synod, in order to have him silenced. I became 
his zealous partisan, and contributed all I could to raise a 
party in his favour, and combated for him awhile mth some 
hopes of success. There was much scribbling pro and con 
upon the occasion, and finding, that, though an elegant 
preacher, he was but a poor wi-iter, I wrote for him two or 
three pamphlets, and a piece in the Gazette of April, 1735. 
Those pamphlets, as is generally the case with contro- 
versial writings, though eagerly read at the time, were soon 
out of vogue, and I question whether a single copy of them 
now exists. 

During the contest an unhicky occurrence hurt his cause 
exceedingly. One of our adversaries having heard him 
preach a sermon, that was much admired, thought he 
had somewhere read the sermon before, or at least a part 
of it. On searching, he found that part quoted at length, in 
one of the British Remeivs, from a discourse of Dr. Foster's. 
This detection gave many of our party disgust, who accord- 
ingly abandoned his cause, and occasioned oui- more speedy 
discomfiture in the synod. I stuck by him, however. I 
rather approved his giving us good sermons composed by 
others, than bad ones of his own manufacture ; though the 
latter was the practice of our common teachers. He after- 
wards acknowledged to me that none of those he preached 
were his own, adding, that his memory was such, as enabled 
him to retain and repeat any sermon after once reading only. 
On our defeat, he left us in seai'ch elsewhere of better 



BENJAMIN FBANKUN. Ill 

fortune, and I quitted the congregation, never attending it 
after, though I continued many years my suhscription for 
the support of its ministers. 

I had begun in 1733 to study languages; I soon made 
myself so much a master of the French, as to he able to read 
the books in that language with ease. I then undertook 
the Italian. An acquaintance, who was also learning it, 
used often to tempt me to play chess with him. Finding 
this took up too much of the time I had to spare for study, 
I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condi- 
tion, that the victor in every game should have a right 
to impose a task, either of parts of the grammar, to be 
got by heart, or in translations, which tasks the van- 
quished was to perform upon honour before our next 
meeting. As we played pretty equally, we thus beat one 
another into that language. I afterwards, with a httle 
pains-taking, acquii-ed as much of the Spanish as to read 
their books also. 

I have already mentioned that I had only one year's in- 
struction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after 
which I neglected that language entirely. But, when I 
had attained an acquaintance with the French, ItaHan, and 
Spanish, I was surprised to find, on looking over a Latin 
Testament, that I understood more of that language than I 
had imagined ; which encouraged me to apply myself again 
to the study of it, and I met with more success, as those 
preceding languages had greatly smoothed my way. 

From these circumstances I have thought there is some 
inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages. 
We are told that it is proper to begin first with the Latin, 
and having acquired that it will be more easy to attain those 
modem langiiages which are derived from it ; and yet we do 
not begin with the Greek, in order more easily to acquire 
the Latin. It is true that if we can clamber and get to the 



]12 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

top of a staircase without using the steps, we shall nioro 
easily gain them in descending ; hut certainly if we begin 
with the lowest, we shall with more ease ascend to the top : 
and 1 would therefore offer it to the consideration of those 
Avho superintend the education of our youth, whether, since 
many of those, who begin with the Latin, quit the same 
after spending some years without having made any great 
proficiency, and what they have learned becomes almost 
useless, so that their time has been lost, it would not have 
been better to have begun with the French, proceeding to 
the Italian and Latin ? For though after spending the same 
time they should quit the study of languages and never 
arrive at the Latin, thej"^ would however have acquired 
another tongue or two, that, being in modern use, might be 
serviceable to them in common life. 

After ten years' absence from Boston, and having become 
easy in my circumstances, I made a journey thither to visit 
my relations ; which I could not sooner afford. In return- 
ing I called at Newport to see my brother James, then settled 
there Avith his printing-house. Our former differences were 
forgotten, and our meeting was very cordial and affectionate. 
He was fast declining in health, and requested me that, in 
case of his death, which he apprehended was not far distant, 
I Avould take home his son, then but ten years of age, and 
bring him up to the printing business. This I accordingly 
]ierformed ; sending him a few years to school before I took 
him into the office. His mother carried on the business till 
he was grown up, when I assisted him with an assortment of 
new types, those of his father being in a manner worn out. 
Thus it was that I made my brother ample amends for the 
service I had deprived him of by leaving him so early. 

In 17o6, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years 
old, by the smallpox, taken in the common way. 1 long re- 
gretted him bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it 



BEN.TAMIX FRANKLIN. 113 

to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake ot 
parents who omit that operation on the supposition that 
they should never forgive themsehes if a child died under 
it ; my example showing that the regret may he the same 
either way, and therefore that the safer should he chosen 

Our club, the Junto, was found so useful, and afforded 
such satisfaction to the members, that some were desirous 
of introducing their friends, which could not well be done 
without exceeding what we had settled as a convenient 
number, viz. twelve. "We had from the beginning made it 
a rule to keep our institution a secret, which was prettj- well 
observed ; the intention was to avoid applications of improper 
persons for admittance, some of whom, perhaps, we might 
find it difficult to refuse. I was one of those who were 
against any addition to our number, but instead of it made 
in writing a proposal that every member separately should 
endeavour to form a subordinate club, with the same rules 
respecting queries, &c., and without informing them of the 
connection with the Junto. The advantages proposed were 
the improvement of so many more young citizens by the use 
of our institutions ; our better acquaintance with the general 
sentiments of the inhabitants on any occasion, as the Junto 
member might propose what queries we should desire, and 
was to report to the Junto what passed at his separate 
club ; the promotion of our particular interests in business 
by more extensive recommendation, and the increase of our 
influence in public affairs, and our power of doing good by 
spreading through the several clubs the sentiments of thf; 
Junto. 

The project was approved, and every member undertook 
to form his club ; but they did not all succeed. Five or six 
only were completed, which were called by different names, 
as the Vine, the Union, the Band. They were useful to 
themselves, and afforderl us a good deal of amusement. 



114 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

information, and instruction ; besides answering, in some 
considerable degree, our views of influencing the public on 
particular occasions ; of which I shall give some instances 
in course of time as they happened. 

My first promotion was my being chosen, in 1736, clerk 
of the General Assembly. The choice was made that }"ear 
without opposition ; but the year following, when I was 
again proposed (the choice, like that of the members, being 
annual), a new member made a long speech against me, in 
order to favour some other candidate. I was, however, chosen, 
which was the more agreeable to me, as, besides the pay for 
the immediate service of clerk, the place gave me a better 
opportunity of keeping up an interest among the members, 
which secured to me the business of printing the votes, laws, 
paper-money, and other occasional jobs for the public, that, 
on the whole, were very profitable. 

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, 
who was a gentleman of fortune and education, with talents 
that were likely to give him in time gi-eat influence in the 
House, which indeed afterwards happened. I did not, how- 
ever, aim at gaining his favom- by paying any servile respect 
to him, but, after some time, took this other method. Having 
heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and 
curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire 
of perusing that book, and requesting that he would do me 
the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it 
immediately ; and I returned it in about a week with another 
note, expressing strongly the sense of the favour. When 
we next met in the House he spoke to me, which he had 
never done before, and with great civility ; and he ever 
after manifested a readiness to serve me on aU occasions, so 
that we became gi-eat friends, and our fi-iendship continued 
to his death. This is another instance of the truth of an 
old maxim I had learned, which says, " lie that has once done 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 115 

you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he 
whom you yourself have ohliyedr And it shows how much 
more profitahle it is prudently to remove, than to resent, re- 
turn, and continue, inimical proceedings. 

In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, 
and then postmaster-general, being dissatisfied with the 
conduct of his deputy at Philadelphia, respecting some 
negligence in rendering, and want of exactness in framing, 
his accounts, took from him the commission and offered it 
to me. I accepted it readily, and found it of great advan- 
tage : for, though the salary was small, it facilitated the 
correspondence that improved my newspaper, increased the 
number demanded, as well as the advertisements to be 
inserted, so that it came to afford me a considerable income. 
My old competitor's newspajDer declined proportionably, and 
I was satisfied without retaliating his refusal, while post- 
master, to permit my papers being carried by the riders. 
Thus he suffered greatly from his neglect in due accounting ; 
and I mention it as a lesson to those young men, who may 
be employed in managing affairs for others, that they should 
always render accounts, and make remittances, with great 
clearness and punctuality. The character of observing such 
a conduct is the most powerful of all recommendations to 
new employments and increase of business. 

I began now to turn my thoughts to public affairs, be- 
ginning, however, with small matters. The city watch was 
one of the first things that I conceived to want regulation. 
It was managed by the constables of the respective wards in 
turn ; the constable summoned a number of housekeepers to 
attend him for the night. Those, who chose never to attend, 
paid him six shillings a year to be excused, which was 
supposed to go to hiring substitutes, but was in reality much 
more than was necessary for that purpose, and made the con- 
stableship a place of profit : and the constable, for a little 



llfi BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

driuk, often got such ragamuffins about him as a watch, that 
resiiectable housekeepers did not choose to mix with. 
Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of 
the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper, to 
he read in the Junto, representing these irregularities, hut 
insisting moi-e particularly on the inequality of the six 
shilling tax of the constable, respecting the circimistances 
of those who paid it ; since a poor widow housekeeper, all 
whose property to he guaided by the watch did not perhaps 
exceed the value of fifty pounds, imid as much as the 
wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth 
of goods in his stores. 

On the whole I pioposed as a more effectual watch the 
hiring of proper men to serve constantlj' in the business, and 
as a more equitable way of supporting the charge, the levy- 
ing a tax that should be proportioned to the property. 
This idea, being approved by the Junto, was communicated 
to the other clubs, but as originating in each of them ; and 
though the plan was not immediately carried into execution, 
yet, by preparing the minds of people for the change, it 
paved the way for the law obtained a few years after, 
when the members of our clubs wei'c gTOwn into more 
influence. 

About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in the 
Junto, but it was afterwards published) on the different 
accidents and carelessnesses by which houses were set on 
fire, with cautions against them, and means proposed of 
avoiding them. This was spoken of as a useful piece, and 
gave rise to a project, which soon followed it, of forming 
a company for the more ready extinguishing of fires, and 
mutual assistance in removing and securing of goods when 
in danger. Associates in this scheme were presently found 
amounting to thirty. Our articles of agreement obliged 
every member to keep always in good order, and fit for use. 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 117 

a certain number of leathern buckets, with, strong bags and 
baskets (for packing and transporting of goods), which were 
to be In-ought to every fire, and we agreed about once a 
mouth to spend a social evening together, in discoursing 
and communicating such ideas as occurred to us upon the 
subject of fires, as might be useful in our conduct on such 
occasions. 

The utility of this institution soon appeared, and many 
more desiring to be admitted than we thought convenient for 
one company, they were advised to form another, which was 
accordingly done : and thus went on one new company after 
another, till they became so numerous as to include most of 
the inhabitants who were men of projjerty ; and now, at the 
time of my writing this, though upwards of fifty years since 
its establishment, that which I first formed, called the Union 
Fire Company, still subsists ; though the first members are 
all deceased but one, who is older by a year than I am. 
The fines that have been paid by members for absence at 
the monthly meetings have been applied to the purchase of 
fire-engines, ladders, fire-hooks, and other useful implements 
for each company ; so that I question whether there is a 
city in the world better provided with the means of putting 
a stop to beginning conflagrations ; and, in fact, since these 
institutions, the city has never lost by fire more than one or 
two houses at a time, and the flames have often been ex- 
tinguished before the house in which they began has been 
half consumed 



118 BENJAMIN FRANKI, 



CHAPTER VIII. 



In 1739, arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. 
Whitefield, who had made himself remarkable there as an 
itinerant preacher. He was at fii-st permitted to preach in 
some of our churches ; hut the clergy, taking a dislike to 
him, soon refused him their pulpits, and he was obliged to 
preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and de- 
nominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and 
it was a matter of speculation to me, who was one of the 
number, to observe the extraordinary influence of his 
oratory on his hearers, and how much they admired and 
respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, 
by assuring them, they were natui-ally half beasts and half 
devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in 
the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless 
or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world 
were growing religious, so that one could not walk thi-ough 
the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in 
different families of every street. 

And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open 
air, subject to its raclemencies, the building of a house to 
meet in was no sooner proposed, and persons appointed to 
receive contributions, than sufficient sums were soon received 
to procure the ground, and erect the building, which was 
one hundred feet long and seventy broad ; and the work 
was carried on with such spirit as to be finished in a much 
shorter time than could have been expected. Both house 
and ground were vested in trustees, expressly for the use of 
any preacher of any reliffions permasion, who might desire to 
say something to the people at Philadelphia ; the design in 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 119 

building being not to accoiamodate any particular sect, but 
the inhabitants in general ; so that even if the Mufti of 
Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach 
Mahometanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service. 

Mr. Whitefield, on leaving us, went preaching all the 
way through the colonies to Georgia. The settlement of 
that province had been lately begun, but, instead of being 
made with hardy, industrious husbandmen, accustomed to 
labour, the only people fit for such an enterprise, it was 
with families of broken shopkeepers and other insolvent 
debtors ; many of indolent and idle habits, taken out of the 
jails, who, being set down in the woods, unqualified for 
clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new 
settlement, perished in numbers, leaving many helpless 
children unprovided for. The sight of their miserable 
situation inspired the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield 
with the idea of building an Orphan House there, in which 
they might be supported and educated. Eetuming north- 
ward, he preached up this charity, and made large collec- 
tions; for his eloquence had a wonderful power over the 
hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I myself was an 
instance. 

I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia was 
then destitute of materials and workmen, and it was pro- 
posed to send them from Philadelphia at a great expense, I 
thought it would have been better to have built the house 
at Philadelphia, and brought the children to it. This I 
advised; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected 
my counsel, and I therefore refused to contribute. I hap- 
pened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the 
couise of which I perceived he intended to finish with a 
collection, and I silently resolved that he should get nothing 
from mc. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, 
three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he 



120 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the 
copper. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed 
of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he 
finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly 
into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon 
there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments 
respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collec- 
tion might be intended, had by precaution emptied his 
pockets before he came from home. Towards the con- 
clusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong inclina- 
tion to give, and applied to a neighbour, who stood near 
him, to lend him some money for the purpose. The 
request was fortunately made to perhaps the only man in 
the company who had the firmness not to be affected by the 
preacher. His answer was, " At any other time, friend 
Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely, but not now, for 
thee seems to be out of thy right senses." 

Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to suppose that 
he would apply these collections to his own private emolu- 
ment ; but I, who was intimately acquainted with him, being 
employed in printing his sermons and journals, never had 
the least suspicion of his integritj- ; but am to this day 
decidedly of opinion, that he was in all his conduct a 
pei-fectly honest man ; and methinks my testimony in his 
favour ought to have the more weight, as we had no 
religious connection. He used, indeed, sometimes, to pray 
for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of 
believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere 
civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his 
dcalli. 

The following instance will show the terms on which we 
stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston, 
he wrote to me that he should come soon to Philadelphia, 
but knew not where he could lodge when theie, as he 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 121 

understood his old friend and host, Mr. Benezet, was 
removed to Gerniantown. IMy answer was, " You know 
my house ; if j'ou can make shift with its scanty accommo- 
dations, you will be most heartily welcome." He replied, 
that if I made that kind offer for Christ's sake I should not 
miss of a reward. And I returned, "Don't let me be 
mistaken ; it was not for Christ's sake, but for i/our sake." 
One of our conmion acquaintance jocosely remarked, that, 
knowing- it to be the custom of the saints, when they 
received any favour, to shift the burden of the obligation 
from off their own shoulders, and place it in heaven, I had 
contrived to fi.K it on earth. 

The last time I saw Mr. Whitefield, was in London, 
when he consulted me about his Orphan House concern, 
and his purpose of appropriating- it to the establishment of 
a college. 

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words 
so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a 
great distance; especially as his auditors observed the 
most perfect silence. He preached one evening from the 
top of the Court House steps, which are in the middle of 
IMarket Street, and on the west side of Second Street, 
which crosses it at right angles. Both streets were tilled 
with his liearers to a considerable distance. Being among 
th(^ hindmost in Market Street, I had the curiosity to learn 
how far he could be heai-d by retiring backwards down the 
street towards the river ; and I found his voice distinct till 
I came near Front Street, when some noise in that street 
obscured it. Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my 
distance should be the radius, and that it was filled with 
auditors, to e;ich of whom I allowed two square feet, I 
computed that he might well be heard by moie than thirty 
thousand. This reconciled me to the newspaper accounts 
of his having preached to twenty-five thousand people in 



122 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the fields, and to the history of generals haranguing whole 
armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.* 

By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily between 
sermons newly composed, and those which he had often 
preached in the course of his travels. His delivery of the 
latter was so improved by frequent repetition, that every 
accent, every emi^hasis, every modulation of voice, was so 
perfectly weU turned, and well placed, that, without being 
intei-ested in the subject, one could not help being pleased 
with the discourse ; a pleasure of much the same kind with 
that received from an excellent piece of music. This is an 
advantage itinerant preachers have over those who are sta- 
tionary, as the latter cannot well improve their delivery of 
a sermon by so many rehearsals. 

His writing and printing from time to time gave great 
advantage to his enemies ; tmguarded expressions, and even 
erroneous opinions, delivered in preaching, might have 
been afterwards explained or qualified by supposing others 
that might have accompanied them; or they might have 
been denied ; but litera scripta manet. Critics attacked his 
writings violently, and with so much appeai-ance of reason 
as to diminish the nimiber of his votaries, and prevent their 
increase. So that I am satisfied, that, if he had never 

* lu tlie early part of his life, Mr. Whitefield was preaching in an 
open field, when a driunmer happened to be present, who was 
determined to interrupt his pious business, and rudely beat his 
drum in a violent manner in order to drown the preacher's voice. 
Ml". Whitefield spoke very loud, but was not as powerful as the 
instrument. He therefore called out to the drummer in these 
words, " Friend, you and I serve the two greatest masters existing:, 
but in different callings ; you beat iip for volunteers for King- 
George, I for the Lord Jesus. In God's name, then, let us not 
interrupt each other ; the world is wide enough for both, and we 
may get recruits in abundance." This speech had such an effect 
on the drummer that he went away in great good humour, and left 
the preacher in full possession of the field- 



BENJAMIN PRANKljIN. 123 

written anything, he would have left hehind him a nauch 
more numerous and important sect ; and his reputation 
might in that case have been still growing even after his 
death ; as, there being nothing of his writing on which to 
found a censure, and give him a lower character, his prose- 
lytes would be left at Uberty to attribute to him as great a 
variety of excellences, as their enthusiastic admiration 
might wish him to have possessed. 

My business was now constantly augmenting, and my 
circumstances growing daily easier, my newspaper having 
become veiy profitable, as being for a time, almost the only 
one in this and the neighbouring provinces. I experienced 
too, the truth of the observation, " that after getting the 
first hundred pomids, it is more easy to get the second ; " 
money itself being of a prohfic miture. 

The partnership at Carolina having succeeded, I was en- 
coiu'aged to engage in others, and to promote several of my 
workmen, who had behaved well, by establishing them in 
printing-houses in different colonies, on the same terms 
with that in Carolina. Most of them did well, being- 
enabled at the end of our term, six years, to pui-chase the 
types of me, and go on working for themselves, by which 
means several families were raised. Partnerships often 
finish in quarrels ; but I was happy in this, that mine 
were all carried on and ended amicably ; owing, I think, a 
good deal to the precaution of having very explicitly settled, 
in our articles, everything to be done by, or expected from, 
each partner, so that there was nothing to dispute ; which 
precaution I would therefore recommend to all who enter 
into partnerships ; for, whatever esteem partners may have 
for, and confidence in, each other at the time of the con- 
tract, little jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas of 
inequality in the care and burden, business, &c., which 
are attended often with breach of fi-iendship, and of 



124 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the connection ; perhaps with lawsuits and other disagree- 
able consequences. 

I had, on the whole, abundant reason to be satisfied with 
my being established in Pennsylvania. There were, how- 
ever, some things that I regretted, there being no provi- 
sion for defence, nor for a complete education of youth ; 
no militia, nor any college. I, therefore, in 1743 di-ew vip 
a proposal for establishing an Academy ; and at that time, 
thinking the Reverend Richard Peters, who was out of 
employ, a fit person to superintend such an institution, I 
communicated the project to him; but he, having more 
profitable views in the service of the Proprietors, which 
succeeded, declined the undertaking ; and, not knowing 
another at that time suitable for such a trust, I let the 
scheme lie awhile dormant. I succeeded better the next 
year, 1744, in proposing and establishing a Philosophical 
^Society. The paper I wrote for that purpose will be found 
among my writings, if not lost with many others. 

With respect to defence, Spain having been several years 
at war against Great Britain, and being at length joined 
by France, which broiight us into gi-eat dangei' ; and the 
labom-ed and long-continued endeavour of our governor, 
Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly to pass a 
militia law, and make other provisions for the security of 
the province, having proved abortive, I proposed to try 
what might be done by a voluntary subscription of the 
people. To promote this, I first wrote and published a 
pamphlet, entitled Plain Truth, in which I stated our 
helpless situation in strong lights, with the necessity of 
union and discipline for our defence, and promised to pro- 
pose in a few days an association, to be generally signed 
for that purpose. The pamphlet had a sudden and sur- 
prising efllect. 1 was called upon for the instrument of 
association. Having settled the draft of it with a few 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 126 

friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large 
building before mentioned. The house was pretty full ; I 
had prepared a number of printed copies, and provided 
pens and ink dispersed all over the room, I harangued 
them a little on the subject, read the paper, explained it, 
and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly signed, 
not the least objection being made. 

When the company separated, and the papers were col- 
lected, we found about twelve hundred signatures; and other 
copies being dispersed in the country, the subscribers 
amounted at length to upwards of ten thousand. These all 
furnished themselves as soon as they could with arms, formed 
themselves into companies and regiments, chose their owif 
officers, and met every week to be instructed in the manual 
exercise, and other parts of military discipline. The women, 
by subscriptions among themselves, provided silk colours, 
which they presented to the companies, painted with dif- 
fei-ent devices and mottos, which I supplied. * 

* The foUowiug are th^, devices and mottos, as published at the 
time. 

" 1. A liou erect, a naked scimitar in one paw, tlic other holJiii)? 
the Pennsylvania scutcheon. Moito : Foiria. 

" 2. Thrcciirms wearing different linen, ruffled, plain, and checked, 
the hands joined by grasping each other's wi-ist, denoting the union 
of all ranks. Motto : Unita Virtm Valet. 

"3. An eagle, the emblem of Victory, descending from the skies. 
Motto : A Deo Victoria. 

"4. The iigure^of Liberty sitting on a cube, holding a spear with 
the cap of Freedom on its point. Motto : Inestimahilis. 

"5. An armed man with a naked falchion in his hand. Motto : 
Deus adjuvat Fortes. 

"6. An elephant, being the emblem of a warrior always on his 
guard, as that creature is said never to lie down, and hath his arms 
ever in readiness. Motto : Semper Paratas. 

"7. A city walled round. Motto : Solus PatrvB Summa Le:c. 

'• 8. A soldier with his piece recovered, ready to present. Motto ; 
Sirpacem quxrimus. 



126 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia 
regiment heing met, chose me for their colonel, hut con- 
ceiving myself unfit, I declined that station, and recom- 
mended IVIr. Lawrence, a fine person, and a man of influence, 
■who was accordingly appointed. I then proposed a lottery 
to defray the expense of building a battery below the town 
and furnished with cannon. It filled expeditiously, and the 
battery was soon erected, the merlons being framed of logs, 
and filled with earth. We bought some old cannon from 
Boston ; but these not being sufficient, we wrote to London 
for more, soliciting at tlie same time our Proprietaries for 
some assistance, though without much expectation of ob- 
taining it. 

Meanwhile Colonel Lawrence, Mr. Allen, Abraham Tay- 
lor, and myself were sent to New York by the associators, 

"9. A coronet and plume of feathers. Motto : In God we trust. 

" 10. A man with a sword di-awn. Motto : Pre Aris et Focis. 

" 11. Three of the associators, marching with their muskets 
shouldered, and dressed in different clothes,^intimatLng the unanim- 
ity of the different sorts of people in the Association. Motto : Vis 
JJnita Fortior. 

"12. A musket and sword crossing each other. Motto: Pro 
Beqe et Grege. 

" 13. Eepresention of a glory, in the middle of which is wrote, 
Jehovah-Nissi ; in English, The Lord our Banner. 

"14. A castle, at the gate of which a soldier stands sentinel. 
Motto : Cavendo Tutus. 

"15. David, as he advanced against Goliath and slung the stone. 
Motto : In Nomine Domini. 

' 16. A lion rampant, one paw holding up a scimitar, another a 
sheaf of wheat. Motto : Domine Protege Alimentum. 

" 17. A sleeping lion. Motto : Rouse me if you dare. 

"18. Hope, represented by a woman standing clothed in hlue, 
holding one hand on an anchor. Motto : Spero per deum Vincere. 

" 19. Duke of Cvimberland, as a general. Motto : Pro Deo et Georgia 
Rege. 

" 20. A sailor on horseback. Motto : Pro I/ibcrtate Patriai, 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. l27 

commissioned to borrow some cannon of Governor Clinton. 
He at first refused us 'peremptorily ; but at a dinner with 
his council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, 
as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degi-ees, 
and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers 
he advanced to ten, and at length he very good-natnredly 
conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, eighteen- 
pounders, with their carriages, which were soon transported 
and mounted on our batteries, where the associators kept a 
nightly guard, while the war lasted, and among the rest I 
regularly took mv turn of duty there as a coimnon 
soldier. 

My activity in these operations was agreeable to the 
governor and council ; they took me into confidence, and 
I was consulted by them in every measure where their 
concurrence was thought useful to the Association. Calling 
in the aid of religion, I proposed to them the proclaiming a 
fast, to promote reformation, and implore the blessing of 
Heaven on our undertaking. They embraced the motion ; 
but, as it was the first fast ever thought of in the province, 
the secretary had no precedent from which to draw the pro- 
clamation. My education in New England, where a fast is 
proclaimed every year, was here of some advantage ; I drew 
it in the accustomed style ; it was translated into German, 
printed in both languages, and circulated through the pro- 
\Tnce. This gave the clergy of the different sects an oppor- 
tunity of influencing their congregations to join the Associ- 
ation, and it would probably have been general among aU 
but the Quakers, if the peace had not soon intervened. 

It was thought by some of my friends, that, by my activitj' 
in these affairs, I should offend that sect, and thereby lose 
my interest in the Assembly of the province, where they 
formed a gTcat majority. A young man, who had likewise 
some fiiends in the Assembly, and wished to succeed me as 



128 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



fheii- clerk, acquainted me, that it was decided to displace 
me at the next election; and he, through good will, advised 
me to resign, as more consistent with my honour than heing 
turned out. My answer to him was, that I had read or heard 
of some public man, who made it a rule never to ask for an 
office, and never to refuse one when offered to him. '• I 
approve," said I, " of this rule, and shall practise it with a 
small addition ; I shall never asJt, never rrf/me, nor ever 
UEsiGx an office. If they will have my office of clerk to 
dispose of it to another, they shall take it from me. I will 
not, by gi^'ing it up, lose my right of some time or other 
making reprisal on my adversaries." I heard, however, no 
more of this ; I was chosen again imanimously as clerk at 
the next election. Possibly, as they disliked my late in- 
timacy with the members of Council, who had joined the 
governors in all the disputes about military preparations, 
with which the House had long been harassed, they might 
have been pleased if I would voluntarily have left them ; 
but they did not care to displace me on account merely of 
my zeal for the Association, and they could not well give 
another reason. 

Indeed, I had some c^use to believe that the defence of the 
country was not disagreeable to any of them, provided they 
were not required to assist in it. And I found that a much 
greater niunber of them than I could have imagined, though 
against offensive war, were clearly for the defensive. Many 
pamphlets ^)'o and con were published on the subject, and 
some by good Quakers, in favour of defence; which, I believe, 
convinced most of their young people. 

A transaction in our fire company gave me some insight 
into their prevailing sentiments. It had been proposed that 
we should encourage the scheme for building a batterj' by 
laying out the present stock, then about sixty pounds, in 
tickets of the lottery. Bj our rules no money could be 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 129 

disposed of till the next meeting after the proposal. The com- 
pany consisted of thirty members, of whom twenty-two were 
Quakers, and eight only of other persuasions. We eight 
punctually attended the meeting, hut, though we thought 
that some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no means 
sure of a majority. Only one Quaker, Mr. James Morris, 
appeared to oppose the measure. He expressed much sorrow 
that it had ever been proposed, as he said Friends were all 
against it, and it would create such discord as might break 
up the company. Wo told him that we saw no reason for 
that ; wc were the minority, and if Fr'mids were against 
the measure and out- voted us we must and should, agree- 
ably to the usage of all societies, submit. When the hour 
for business an-ived, it was moved to put this to the vote : 
he allowed we might do it by the rules, but, as he could 
assure us that a number of members intended to be present 
for the purpose of opposing it, it would be but candid to 
allow a little time for their appearing. 

While we were disputing this, a waiter came to toll mv, 
that two gentlemen below desired to speak with me. I 
went down, and found there two of our Quaker members. 
They told me there were eight of them assembled at a 
tavern just by ; that they were determined to come and vote 
with us if there should be occasion, which they hoped would 
not be the case, and desired we would not call for their as- 
sistance if we could do without it, as their voting for such 
a measure might embroil them with their elders and friends. 
Being thus secure of a majority, I went up, and, after a 
little seeming hesitation, agreed to a delay of another hour. 
This Mr. INIorris allowed to be extremely fair. Not one of 
his opposing friends appeared, at which he expressed great 
surprise, and, at the expiration of the hour, we carried the 
resolution eight to one ; and as of the twenty-two Quakers 
eight wore ready to vote with us, and thirteen by their 



130 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

absence manifested that they were not inclined to oppose the 
measure ; I afterwards estimated the proportion of Quakers 
sincerely against defence as one to twenty-one only. For 
these were all regular members of the society, and in good 
reputation among them, and who had notice of what was 
proposed at that meeting. 

The honoui-able and learned IMi'. Logan, who had always 
been of that sect, wrote an address to them, declaring his 
approbation of defensive war, and supported his opinion bj'' 
many strong arguments. He put into my hands sixty 
pounds to be laid out in lottery tickets for the battery, with 
directions to apply what prizes might be drawn whoUy to 
that service. He told me the following anecdote of his old 
master, William Penn, respecting defence. He came over 
from England when a young man, with that Proprietary, 
and as his secretary. It was war time, and their ship was 
chased by an armed vessel, supposed to be an enemy. Their 
captain prepared for defence, but told William Penn and 
his company of Quakers that he did not expect their as- 
sistance, and they might retire into the cabin, which they 
did, except James Logan, who chose to stay upon deck, and 
was quartered to a gun. The supposed enemy proved a 
friend, so there was no fighting ; but when the secretarj- 
went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn 
rebuked him severely for staying upon deck, and under- 
taking to assist in defending the vessel, contrary to the 
principles of Friends, especially as it had not been re- 
quired by the captain. This reprimand, being before all 
the company, piqued the secretary, who answered, " I being 
thy servant, why did thee not order me to come down? But 
thee was willing enough that I should stay and help to fight 
the ship when thee thought there was danger." 

Sly being many years in the Assembly, a majority 
of which were constantly Quakers, gave me frequent 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 131 

opportunities of seeing the embaiTassment given them by 
their principle against war, whenever application was made 
to them, by order of the Crown, to grant aids for military 
puiposes. They were unwilling to offend government, on the 
one hand, by a direct refusal, and their friends, the bo(Jy of 
the Quakers, on the other, by a compliance contrary to 
their principles, using a variety of evasions to avoid com- 
plying, and modes of disguising the compliance when it be- 
came unavoidable. The common mode at last was to grant 
money nnder the phrase of its being "for tJie Kind's wse," 
and never to inquire how it was applied. 

But if the demand was not directly from the Crown, that 
phrase was found not so proper, and some other was to be 
invented. Thus, when powder was wanting (I think it was 
for the garrison at Tjouisburg), and the government of Now 
England solicited a grant of some from Pennsylvania, which 
was much urged on the House by Governor Thomas, they 
would not grant money to buy powder, because that was an 
ingredient of war, but they voted an aid to New England of 
three thousand pounds, to be put into the hands of the 
Governor, and appropriated it for the purchase of bread, 
flour, wheat, or other c/rain. Some of the Council, desirous 
of giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the 
Governor not to accept that provision, as not being the thing 
he had demanded, but he replied, " I shall take the money, 
for I understand very well their meaning ; other grain is 
gunpowder " ; which he accordingly bought, and thcj' never 
objected to it. 

It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire com- 
pany we feared the success of our proposal in favour of the 
lottery, and I had said to a friend of mine, one of our 
members, " If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire 
engine with the money, the Quakers can have no objection 
to that ; and then, if you nominate me, and I you, as a 



132 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which 
is certainly a fro engine.'''' " I see," said he, " you have 
improved by being so long in the Assembly ; your equi- 
vocal project would be just a match for their wheat or other 
grain.^^ 

Those embarrassments that the Quakers suffered, from 
having established and published it as one of their principles 
that no kind of war was lawful, and which, being once pub- 
lished, they could not afterwards, however they might 
change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me of what I 
think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, 
that of the Dunkers. I was acquainted with one of its 
founders, Micnaei Weffare, soon after it appeared. He 
complained to me that they were grievously calumniated by 
the zealots of other persuasions, and charged with abomin- 
able principles and practices to which they were utter 
strangers. I told him this had always been the case with 
new sects, and that to put a stop to such abuse I imagined 
it might be well to publish the ai'ticles of their belief and 
the rules of their discipline. He said that it had been pro- 
posed among them, but not agreed to for this reason : 
"When we were first drawn together as a society," said he, 
" it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see 
that some doctrines which were esteemed truths were errors, 
and that others wluch we had esteemed errors were real 
truths. From time to time he has been pleased to afford 
us further light, and our principles have been improving 
and our errors diminishing. Now we are not sure that we 
are arrived at the end of this progression and at the per- 
fection of spiritual or theological knowledge, and we fear 
that if we should once print our confession of faith, we 
should feel ourselves as if bound and confined by it, and 
perhaps be unwilling to receive further impro^•ement, and 
oui- successors still more so, as concei^^ng what their elders 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 133 

and founders had done to be something sacred — never to he 
departed from." 

This modesty in a sect is perhaps a single instanoe in the 
history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in pos- 
session of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in 
the wrong ; like a man travelling in foggy weather, those at 
some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in 
the fog as well as those behind him, and also the people in 
the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, 
though, in truth, he is as much in the fog as any of them. 
To avoid this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of 
late years been gradually declining the iiublic service in the 
Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather to quit 
their power than their principle. 

In order of time I should have mentioned before that 
having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better 
warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the 
fresh air was warmed in entering, I made a present of 
the model to Mr. Eobert Grace, one of my early friends, 
who, having an iron furnace, found the casting of the plates 
for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in 
demand. To promote that demand I wrote and published 
a pamphlet entitled " An Account of the new-invented 
Pennsylvanian Fire-places, wherein their Construction and 
Planner of Operation are particularly explained, their ad- 
vantages above every other jNlethod of Warming Rooms de- 
monstrated, and all Objections that have been raised against 
the Use of them answered and obviated," &c. This psim- 
phlet had a good effect. Governor Thomas was so pleased 
with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that 
he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them 
for a tenn of years, but I declined it from a principle which 
has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., that as 
we enjoy great advantages from the liiivetitiofis of others, we 



134 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

should be glad of cm opporttmity to serve others by any imen- 
tion of ours, and this we should do freely and generously. 

An ii-onmoriger in London, however, assuming a good 
deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and 
making some small changes in the machine, which rather 
huit its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I 
was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only in- 
stance of patents taken out of my inventions by others, 
though not always with the same success ; which I never 
contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents my- 
self, and hating disputes. The use of these fire-places in 
very many houses, both here in Pennsylvania and the 
neighbouring States, has been, and is, a great saving of 
wood to the inhabitants. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Peace being concluded, and the Association business there- 
fore at an end, I turned my thoughts again to the affair of 
establishing an academy. The first step I took was to as- 
sociate in the design a number of active friends, of whom 
the Junto furnished a good part ; the next was to write and 
publish a pamphlet, entitled, Proposals relating to the Educa- 
tion of Youth in Pennsylvania. This I distributed among the 
principal inhabitants gratis ; and as soon as I could suppose 
their minds a little prepared by the perusal of it, I set on foot 
a subscription for opening and supporting an academy ; 
it was to be paid in quotas yearly for five years. By so 
dividing it I judged the subscription might bo larger; and I 
believe it was so, amounting to no less, if I remember right, 
than five thousand pounds. 

In the introduction to these proposals, I stated their 



BENJAMIN PRANKMN, 135 

publication not as an act of mine, but of some public 
npirited gentlemen ; avoiding as much, as I could, according 
to my usual rule, the presenting myself to the public as the 
author of any scheme for their benefit. 

The subscribers, to carry the project into immediate exe- 
cution, chose out of theii' number twenty-foui- trustees, and 
appointed Mr. Francis, then attorney- general, and myself, 
to draw up constitutions for the government of the aca- 
demy ; which being done and signed, a house was hired, 
masters engaged, and the schools opened ; I think in the 
same year, 1749. 

The scholars increasing fast, the house was soon found 
too small, and we were looking out for a piece of ground, 
properly situated, with intent to build, when accident 
threw into our way a large house ready built, which with a 
few alterations might well serve our purpose. This was 
the building before mentioned, erected by the hearers of 
Mr. Whitefield, and was obtained for us in the following- 
manner. 

It is to be noted, that the contributions to this building 
being made by people of different sects, care was taken in 
the nomination of trustees, in whom the building and 
ground were to be vested, that a predominancy should not 
be given to any sect, lest in time that predominancy might 
be a means of appropriating the whole to the use of such 
sect, contrary to the original intention. It was for this 
reason, that one of each sect was appointed : viz., one 
Church-of-England man, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, 
one Moravian, &;c., who, in case of vacancy by death, were 
to fill it by election from among the contributors. Tlie 
Moravian happened not to please his colleagues, and on his 
death they resolved to have no other of that sect. The 
difficulty then was, how to avoid having two of some other 
sect, by means of the new choice. 



loil BT]N.TAMIN FRANKLIN. 

.Several pei'sons were named, and for that reason not 
agreed to. At length one mentioned me, with the obser- 
vation, that I was merely an honest man, and of no sect at 
all, which prevailed with them to choose me. The enthu- 
siasm, which existed when the house was built, had long 
since abated, and its trustees had not been able to procure 
fresh contributions for paying the ground rent, and dis- 
charging some other debts the building had occasioned, 
which embarrassed them greatly. Being now a member of 
both boards of trustees, that for the building and that for 
llic academy, I had a good opportunity of negotiating with 
both, and brouglit them finally to an agreement, by which 
the trustees for the building were to cede it to those of the 
academy ; the latter undertaking to discharge the debt, to 
Icecp for ever open in the building a large hall for occa- 
.'^ional pieachers, according to the original intention, and 
maintain a free school for the instruction of poor children. 
Writings were accordingly drawn: and, on paying the 
debts, the trustees of the academy were put in possession 
of the premises, and, by dividing the great and lofty hall 
into stories, and different rooms above and below for the 
several schools, and i>urchasing some additional ground, 
the whole was soon made fit for our iiurpose, and the 
scholars removed into the building. Tlie whole care and 
trouble of agreeing with the workmen, purchasing mate- 
rials, and superintending the work, fell upon me ; and I 
went through it the more cheerfully, as it did not then 
interfere with my private business ; having the year before 
taken a very able, industrious, and honest partner, Mr. 
David Hall, with whose character I was well acquainted, as 
he had worked for me four years. He took off my hands 
all care of the imnting-ofiice, paying me punctually my 
share of the profits. This partneiship continued eighteen 
years, successfully for us both. 



Benjamin FRANKLirt. 137 

The trustees of the auademy, after a while, were incor- 
porated by a charter from the governor; their funds were 
increased by contributions in Britain, and grants of land 
from the Proprietaries, to which the Assembly has since 
made considerable addition ; and thus was established 
the present University of Philadelphia. I have been 
continued one of its trustees from the beginning, now 
near forty years, and have had the very great pleasure 
of seeing a number of the youth, who have received their 
education in it, distinguished by their improved abilities, 
serviceable in public stations, and ornaments to their 
coimtry. 

When I was disengaged myself, as above mentioned) 
from private business, I flattered myself that, by the 
suflicient, though moderate, fortune I had acquired, I had 
found leisure during the rest of my life for philosophical 
studies and amusements. I purchased all Dr. Spence's 
apparatus, who had come from England to lecture in 
Philadelphia, and I proceeded in my electrical experiments 
with great alacrity ; but the public, now considering me as 
a man of leisure, laid hold of me for their purposes ; every 
part of our civil government, and almost at the same time, 
imposing some duty upon me. The Governor put me into 
the commission of the peace ; the corporation of the city 
chose me one of the common council, and soon after 
alderman; and the citizens at large elected me a burgess 
to represent them in the Assembly. This latter station 
was the more agreeable to me, as I grew at length tired 
with sitting there to liear the debates, in which, as clerk, 
I could take no part ; and which were often so uninterest- 
ing, that I was induced to amuse myself with making- 
magic squares or circles, or anything to avoid weariness ; 
and I conceived my becoming a member would enlarge my 
power of doing good. I would not, however, insinuate 



138 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

that my ambition was not flattered by all these pro- 
motions; it certainly was, for, considering my low be- 
ginning, they were great things to me ; and they were 
still more pleasing, as being so many spontaneous testi- 
monies of the public good opinion, and by me entirely 
unsolicited. 

The office of justice of the peace I tried a little, by 
attending a few courts, and sitting on the bench to hear 
causes ; but finding that more knowledge of the common 
law than I possessed was necessary to act in that station 
with credit, I gradually withdrew from it ; excusing 
myself by being obliged to attend the higher duties of 
a legislator in the Assembly. My election to this trust 
was repeated every year for ten years, without my ever 
asking any elector for his vote, or signifj^ing, either 
directly or indirectly, any desii-e of being chosen. On 
taking my seat in the House, my son was appointed their 
clerk. 

The year following, a treaty being to be held with the 
Indians at Carlisle, the Governor sent a message to the 
House, proposing that they should nominate some of their 
members, to be joined with some members of Council, as 
commissioners for that purpose. The House named the 
Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself ; and, being commissioned, 
we went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly. 

As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and 
when so are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly 
forbade the selling any liquor to them ; and when they 
complained of this restriction, we told them that if they 
would continue sober during the treaty, we would give 
them plenty of rum when the business was over. They 
promised this, and they kept their promise, because they 
could get no rum ; and the treaty was conducted very 
orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction. They then 



BENJA3IIN FRANKLIN. 139 

claimed and received the rum ; this was in the afternoon. 
They were near one hundred men, women, and children ; 
and were lodged in temporary cabins, built in the form of 
a square, just without the town. In the evening, hearing 
a great noise among them, the commissioners walked to 
see what was the matter. We found they had made a 
great bonfire in the middle of the square ; they were all 
drunk, men and women, quarrelling and fighting. Their 
dark-coloured bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy 
light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another 
with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, 
formed a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that 
could well be imagined. There • was no appeasing the 
tumult, and we retired to our lodging. At midnight a 
number of them came thundering at our door, demanding 
more rum, of which we took no notice. 

The next day, sensible they had misbehaved in giving 
us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counsellors 
to make their apology. The orator acknowledged the 
fault, but laid it upon the rum ; and then endeavoured to 
excuse the rum, by saying, " The Great Spirit, who made 
all things, made everything for some use ; and whatever 
use he designed anything for, that use it should always be 
put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, ' Let this he for 
the Indians to get drunk ivith ;'' and it must be so." And, 
indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these 
savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the 
earth, it seems not impossible that rum may be the 
appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes 
who formerly inhabited the sea-coast. 

In 1751, Dr. Thomas Bond, a particular friend of mine, 
conceived the idea of establishing a hospital in Philadelphia 
(a very beneficent design, which has been ascribed to me, 
but was originally and truly his), for the reception and cure 



140 BENJAMIN FEANKLIX. 

of poor sick persons, whether inliabitauts of the province 
or strangers. He was zealous and active in eudeavoui-ing 
to procure subscriptions for it ; but the proposal being a 
novelty in America, and at first not well understood, he met 
but with little success. 

At length he came to me with the compliment, that he 
found there was no such a thing as carrying a public- 
spirited project through without my being concerned in it. 
" For," said he, " I am often asked by those to whom I 
propose subscribing, Have yon cunsuUed Franllln on thin 
business ? And what does he think of it ? And when I tell 
them that I have not, supposing it rather out of your line, 
they do not subscribe, but say, they will consider it." I 
inquired into the nature and probable utility of this scheme, 
and receiving from him a very satisfactory explanation, I 
not only subscribed to it myself, but engaged heartilj^ in the 
design of procuring subscriptions from others. Previously, 
however, to the solicitation, I endeavoured to prepare the 
minds of the people by writing on the subject in the news- 
papers, which was my usual custom in such cases, but which 
Dr. Bond had omitted. 

The subscriptions afterwards were more free and gene- 
rous; but, beginning to flag, I saw they would be insuflBcient 
without some assistance from the Assembly, and therefore 
proposed to petition for it, which was done. The country 
members did not at tir.st relish the project. They objected 
that it could only be serviceable to the city, and theiefore 
the citizens alone should be at the expense of it ; and they 
doubted whether the citizens themselves generally approved 
of it. My allegation on the contrary, that it met with such 
approbation as to leave no doubt of our being able to raise 
two thousand pounds by voluntary donations, they con- 
sidered as a most extravagant supposition, and utterly 
impossible. 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 141 

On this I formed my plan ; and, asking leave to bring in 
a Bill for incorporating the contributors according to the 
prayer of their petition, and granting them a blank sum of 
money ; which leave was obtained chiefly on the considera- 
tion that the House could thi-ow the Bill out if they did not 
like it. I drew it so as to make the important clause a con- 
ditional one : viz. " And be it enacted, by the authority 
aforesaid, that, when the said contributors shall have met 
and chosen their managers and treasurer, and shall have 
raised by their cortti-ibutions a capital stock of two thousand 
pounds' value (the yearly interest of which is to be applied 
to the accommodation of the sick poor in the said hospital, 
and of charge for diet, attendance, advice, and medicines) 
and shall make the same appear to the satisfaction of the 
Speaker of the Assembl;/ for the time being, that then it shall 
and may be lawful for the said Speaker, and he is hereby 
required, to sign an order on the provincial treasurer, for 
the payment of two thousand pounds, in two yearly pay- 
ments, to the treasurer of the said hospital, to be applied 
to the founding, building, and finishing of the same." 

This condition carried the Bill through ; for the members 
who had opposed the grant, and now conceived they might 
have the credit of being charitable without the expense, 
agreed to its passage. And then, in soliciting subscriptions 
among the people, we urged the conditional promise of the 
law as an additional motive to give, since every man's 
donation would be doubled; thus the claus(; worked both 
waj's. The subscriptions accordingly soon exceeded the 
requisite sum, and we claimed and received the public gift, 
which enabled us to carry the design into execution. A 
convenient and handsome building was soon erected ; the 
institution has by constant experience been found useful, and 
floiu-ishes to this day ; and I do not remember any of my 
political manoeuvres the success of which at the time gave 



142 BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 

me more pleasure, or -wherein, after thinking of it, I more 
easily excused myself for having made some use of 
cunning. 

It was about this time that another projector, the Reve- 
rend Gilbert Tennont, came to me with a request, that I 
■would assist him in procuring a subscription for erecting a 
new meeting-house. It was to be for the use of a congre- 
gation he had gathered among the Presbyterians, who were 
originally disciples of Mr. Whitefield. Unwilling to make 
myself disagreeable to my feUow citizens, by too frequently 
soliciting their contributions, I absolutely refused. He then 
desired I would furnish him with a list of the names of 
persons I knew by experience to be generous and public- 
spirited. I thought it would be unbecoming in me, after 
their kind compliance with my solicitations, to mark them 
out to be worried by other beggars, and therefore refused 
to give such a list. He then desired I would at least give 
him my advice. " That I wiU readily do," said I ; " and, 
in the first place, I advise you to apply to all those who you 
know will give something ; next to those who you ai-e un- 
certain whether they wiU give anything or not, and show 
them the list of those who have given ; and lastly, do not 
neglect those who you are sure wiU give nothing ; for in 
some of them you may be mistaken." He laughed and 
thanked me, and said he would take my advice. He 
did so, for he asked of everybody ; and he obtained a much 
larger sum than he expected, with which he erected the 
capacious and elegant meeting-house that stands in Arch 
Street. 

Our city, though laid out with a beautiful regularity, the 
streets large, straight, and crossing each other at right 
angles, had the disgrace of suffering those streets to remain 
long unpaved, and in wet weather the wheels of heavj'- 
carriages ploughed them into a quagmire, so that it was 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 143 

difficult to cross them ; and in dry weather the dust was 
offensive. I had lived near what was called the Jersey- 
Market, and saw with pain the inhabitants wading in mud, 
while purchasing their provisions. A strip of ground down 
the middle of that market was at length paved with brick, 
so that, being once in the market, they had fii-m footing ; but 
were often over shoes in dirt to get there. By talking and 
writing on the subject, I was at length instrumental in 
getting the street paved with stone between the market and 
the brick foot pavement, that was on the side next the 
houses. This, for some time, gave an easy access to the 
market dry-shod; but, the rest of the street not being 
paved, whenever a carriage came out of the mud upon this 
pavement, it shook off and left its dirt upon it, and it was 
soon covered with mire, which was not removed, the city as 
yet having no scavengers. 

After some inquiry, I found a poor industrious man, who 
was willing to undertake keeping the pavement clean, by 
sweeping it twice a week, carrying off the dirt from before 
all the neighbours' doors, for the sum of sixpence per month, 
to be paid by each house. I then wrote and printed a paper 
setting forth the advantages to the neighbourhood that 
might be obtained from this small expense ; the greater 
ease in keeping our houses clean, so much dirt not being 
brought in by people's feet ; the benefit to the shops by more 
custom, as buyers could more easily get at them ; and by not 
having '.in windy weather the dust blown in upon their 
goods, &c., &c. I sent one of these papers to each house, 
and in a day or two went round to see who would subscribe 
an agreement to pay these sixpences ; it was unanimously 
signed, and for a time well executed. All the inhabitants 
of the city were delighted with the cleanliness of the pave- 
ment that surrounded the market, it being a convenience to 
all, and this raised a general desire to have all the streets 



144 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

paved ; and made the people more willing to submit to a 
tax for that pui-pose. 

After some time I drew a bill for paving the city, and 
brought it into the Assembly. It was jrst before I went to 
England,' in 1757, and did not pass till I was gone, and then 
with an alteration in the mode of assessment, which I 
thought not for the better ; but with an additional pro- 
vision for lighting as Avell as paving the streets, which was 
a great improvement. It was by a private person, the late 
Mr. John Clifton, giving a sample of the utility of lamps, by 
placing one at his door, that the people were first impressed 
with the idea of lighting all the city. The honom- of this 
public benefit has also been ascribed to me, but it belongs 
truly to that gentleman. I did but follow his example, and 
have only some merit to claim respecting the form of our 
lamps, as differing from the globe lamps we were at first 
supplied with from Loudon. They were found inconvenient 
in these respects : they admitted no air below ; the smoke 
therefore did not readily go out above, but circulated in the 
globe, lodged on its inside, and soon obstructed the light 
they were intended to afford; giving besides the daily 
trouble of wiping them clean ; and an accidental stroke on 
one of them would demolish it, and render it totally useless. 
I therefore suggested the composing them of four flat pani'S, 
with a long funnel above to draw up the smoke, and crevices 
admitting the aii- below to facilitate the ascent of the smoke ; 
by this means they were kept clean, and did not grow dark 
in a few hours, as the London lamps do, but continued 
bright till morning ; and an accidental stroke would generally 
lireakbut a single pane, easily repaired. 

I have sometimes wondered that the Londoners did not, 
from the effect holes in the bottom of the globe lamps used 
at Vatixhall have in kee])ing them clean, learn to have such 
holes in their street lamps. But, these holes being made for 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 145 

another purpose, viz. to communicate tiame more suddenly 
to the wick by a little flax hanging down through them, the 
other use, of letting in air, seems not to have been thought 
of ; and, therefore, after the lamps have been lit a few hours 
the streets of London are very poorly illuminated. 

The mention of these improvements 2>'its me in mind of 
one I proposed, when in London, to Dr. Fothergill, who was 
among the best men I have known, and a great pro- 
moter of useful projects. I had observed that the streets, 
when dry, were never swept, and the light dust carried 
away ; but it was suffered to accumulate till wet weather 
reduced it to mud ; and then, after lying some days so deep 
on the pavement that there was no crossing but in paths 
kept clean by poor people with brooms, it was with great 
labour raked together and thrown up into carts, open above, 
the sides of which suffered some of the slush at every jolt 
on the pavement to shake out and fall : sometimes to the 
annoyance of oot passengers. The reason given for not 
sweeping the dusty streets was, that the dust would fly into 
the windows of shops and houses. 

An accidental occurrence had instructed me how much 
sweeping might be done in a little time. I found at my 
door in Craven Street, one morning, a poor woman sweeping 
my pavement with a birch-broom ; she appeared very pale 
and feeble, as just come out of a flt of sickness. I asked 
who employed her to sweep there ; she said, " Nobody ; but 
I am poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentlefolkeses 
doors, and hopes they will give me something." I bid her 
sweep the whole street clean, and I would give her a 
shilling ; this was at nine o'clock ; and at noon she came for 
the shilling. From the slowness I saw at first in her work- 
ing, I could scarce belie\'e that the work was done so soon^ 
and sent my servant to examine it, who repoi-tcd that the 
whole street was swept perfectly clean, and all the dust 



146 BENJAMIN FEANKLIN. 

placed in the gutter, which was in the middle ; and the next 
rain washed it quite away, so that the pavement and even 
the kennel were perfectly clean. 

I then judged, that, if that feeble woman could sweep 
such a street in thi-ee hours, a strong, active man might have 
done it in half the time. And here let me remark the con- 
venience of having but one gutter in such a narrow street, 
running down its middle, instead of two, one on each side 
near the footway. For where all the rain that falls on a 
street runs from the sides and meets in the middle, it forms 
there a current strong enough to wash away all the mud it 
meets with ; but when divided into two channels, it is often 
too weak to cleanse either, and only makes the mud it finds 
more fluid; so that the wheels of carriages and feet of 
horses throw and dash it upon the foot pavement, which is 
thereby rendered foxil and slippery, and sometimes splash it 
upon those who are walking. My proposal, communicated 
to the Doctor, was as follows : 

" For the more effectually cleaning and keeping clean the 
streets of London and Westminster, it is proposed, that the 
several watchmen be contracted with to have the dust swept 
up in dry seasons, and the mud raked up at other times, each 
in the several streets and lanes of his round ; that they be 
furnished with brooms and other proper instruments for 
these purposes, to be kept at their respective stands, ready' 
to furnish the poor people they may employ in the service. 

"That in the dry summer months the dust be all swept 
up into heaps at proper distances, before the shops and win- 
dows of houses are usually opened ; when scavengers, with 
close covered carts, shall also carry it all away. 

' ' That the mud, when raked up, be not left in heaps to 
be spread abroad again by the wheels of carriages and 
trampling of horses ; but that the scavengers be provided 
with bodies of carts, not placed high upon wheels, but low 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 147 

upon sliders, with lattice bottoms, which, being covered 
with straw, will retain the mud thrown into them, and per- 
mit the water to drain from it ; whereby it will become 
much lighter, water making the greatest part of the weight. 
These bodies of carts to be placed at convenient distances, 
and the mud brought to them in wheelbarrows : they re- 
maining where placed till the mud is di-ained, and then 
horses brought to draw them away." 

I have since had doubts of the practicability of the latter 
part of this proposal, in all places, on account of the narrow- 
ness of some streets, and the difficulty of placing the drain- 
ing-sleds so as not to encumber too much the passage ; but 
I am still of opinion, that the former, requiring the dust to 
be swept up and carried away before the shops are open, is 
very practicable in the summer, when the days are long ; 
for, in walking through the Strand and Fleet Street one 
morning at seven o'clock, I observed there was not one shop 
open, though it had been daylight and the sun up above 
three hours ; the inhabitants of London choosing voluntarily 
to live much by candle-light, and sleep by sunshine : and 
yet often complain, a liltle absurdly, of the dvity on candles 
and the high price of tallow. 

Some may think these trifling matters not worth minding 
or relating ; but, when they consider, that though dust 
blown into the eyes of a single person, or into a single shop 
in a windy day, is but of small importance, yet the great 
nimiber of the instances in a popiilous city, and its frequent 
repetition, gives it weight and consequence, perhaps they 
will not censure very severely those who bestow some at- 
tention to affaii-s of this seemingly low nature. Human 
felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good 
fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that 
occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor j'oung man 
to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may 



148 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

contribute more to the happiness of his life thfin in giving him 
a thousand guineas. This sum may be soon spent, the regret 
only remaining of having foolishly consumed it ; but in the 
other case, ho escapes the frequent voxation of waiting 
for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive 
breaths, and dull razois ; he shaves when most convenient 
to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with 
a good instrument. With these sentiments I have hazarded 
the few preceding pages, hoping they may afford hints, 
which some time or other may be useful to a city I love, 
having lived many years in it very happily, and perhaps to 
some of our towns in America. 

Having been some time employed by the postmaster- 
general 'of America, as his comptroller in regulating several 
offices, and bringing the officers to account, I was, upon his 
death, in 1753, appointed, jointly with Mr. William Hunter, 
to succeed him, by a commission from the postmaster-general 
in England. The American office had hitherto never paid 
anything to that of Britain. We were to have six hundred 
pounds a year between us, if we could make that sum out of 
the profits of the office. To do this, a variety of improve- 
ments were necessary ; some of these were inevitably at first 
expensive ; so that in the first four years the office became 
above nine hundred pounds in debt to us. But it soon after 
began to repay us : and before I was disjjlaced by a 
freak of the ministers, of which I shall speak hereafter, 
we had brought it to yield three times as much clear revenue 
to the Crown as the post-office of Ii-eland. Since that im- 
prudent transaction, they have received from it — not one 
farthing I 

The business -of the post-office occasioned my taking a 
journey this year to New England, where the College of 
CaiAbridge, of their own motion, presented me with the 
degree of Master of Arts. Yale College in Connecticut had 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. l49 

before made me a 'similar compliment. Thus, without 
studj-ing in any College, I came to partake of their honours. 
They were conferred in consideration of my improvements 
and discoveries in the electric hranch of natural philosophy. 



CHAPTER X. 

In 1754, war with France being again apprehended, a 
congress of commissioners from the different colonies was ])y 
an order of the Lords of Trade to be assembled at Albany ; 
there to confer with the chiefs of the Six Nations, concern- 
ing the means of defending both their country and ours. 
G-ovemor Hamilton having received this order acquainted 
the House with it, requesting they would furnish pi-oper 
presents for the Indians, to be given on this occasion ; and 
naming the Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself to join Mr. 
John Penn and Mr. Secretary Peters as commissioners to 
act for Pennsylvania. The House approved the nomination 
and provided the goods for the presents, thougli they did 
not much like treating out of the province ; and we met the 
other commissioners at Albany about the middle of Jime. 

In our way thither, I projected and drew up a plan for 
the union of all the colonies under one government, so far 
as might be necessary for defence, and other important 
general purposes. As we passed through New York, I liad 
there shown my project to Mr. James Alexander and Mr. 
Kennedy, two gentlemen of great knowledge in public 
affairs ; and, being fortified by their approbation, I ventured 
to lay it before the congress. It tlien appeared that several 
of the commissioners had formed plans of the same kind. A 
previous question was first taken, whether a union should 
be established, which passed in tho afHimati\'e unanimously. 



150 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

A committee was then appointed, one member from each 
colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine 
happened to be preferred; and, with a few amendments, was 
accordingly reported. 

By this plan the general government was to be ad- 
ministered by a President-general, appointed and supported 
by the Crown ; and a grand council was to be chosen by 
the representatives of the people of the several colonies, met 
in their respective assemblies. The debates upon it in 
congress went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian 
business. Many objections and difficulties were started ; 
but at length they were all overcome, and the plan was 
unanimously agreed to, and copies ordered to be trans- 
mitted to the Board of Trade and to the Assemblies of the 
several provinces. Its fate was singular ; the Assemblies 
did not adopt it, as they all thought there was too much 
prerogative in it ; and in England it was judged to have too 
much of the democratic. The Board of Trade did not 
approve it, nor recommend it for the a2Dprobation of his 
Majestj''; but another scheme was formed, supposed to 
answer the same purpose better, whereby the governors of 
the provinces, with some members of their respective 
councils, were to meet and order the raising of troops, 
building of forts, &c., and to draw on the treasury of 
Great Britain for the expense, which was afterwards to be 
refunded by an Act of Parliament, laying a tax on America. 
My plan, with mj' reasons in support of it, is to be found 
among my political papers that were printed. 

Being the winter following in Boston, I had much conver- 
sation with Governor Shirley upon both the plans. Part of 
what passed between us on this occasion may also be seen 
among those papers. The different and contrary reasons of 
dislike to my plan makes me suspect that it was really the 
true medium ; and I am still of opinion it would have been 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



151 



happy for both sides if it had been adopted. The colonies 
so united would have been sufficiently strong to have 
defended themselves ; there would then have been no need 
of troops from England : of course the subsequent pretext 
for taxing America, and the bloody contest it occasioned, 
would have been avoided. But such mistakes are not new ; 
history is full of the errors of states and princes. 

" Look round the habitable world, how few 
Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue ! " 

Those who govern, having much business on their hands, 
do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and 
carrying into execution new projects. The best public 
measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous 
wisdom, but forced by the occasion. 

The Grovemor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the 
Assembly, expressed his approbation of the plan, " as 
appearing to him to be drawn up with great clearness and 
strength of judgment, and therefore recommended it as 
well worthy of their closest and most serious attention." 
The House, however, by the management of a certain 
member, took it up when I happened to be absent, which I 
thought not very fair, and reprobated it without paying 
any attention to it at all, to my no small mortification. 

In my journey to Boston this year, I met at New York 
with our new Governor, Mr. Morris, just arrived therefrom 
England, with whom I had been before intimately ac- 
quainted. He brought a commission to supersede Mr. 
Hamilton, who, tired with the disputes his proprietary 
instructions subjected him to, had resigned. Mr. Morris 
asked me if I thought he must expect as uncomfortable an 
administration. I said, " No ; you may, on the contrary, 
have a very comfortable one, if j^ou will only take care not 
to enter into any dispute with the Assembly." " My dear 



15^ BENJAMIN FteANKLljr. 

friend," said he pleasantly, " how can you advise my 
avoiding disinites ? You know I love disputing, it is one of 
my greatest pleasures ; however, to show the regard I 
have for your counsel, I promise you I will, if possible^ 
avoid them." He had some reason for loving to dispute : 
being eloquent, an acute sophister, and therefore generally 
successful in argumentative conversation. He had beeil 
brought up to it from a boy, his father, as I have heard, 
accustoming his children to dispute with one another for 
his diversion, while sitting at table after dinner ; but I 
think the practice was not wise, for, in the course of my 
observation, those disputing, contradicting, and confuting 
people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get 
victory sometimes, but they never get goodwill, which would 
be of more use to them. We parted ; he going to Phila- 
delphia, and I to Boston. 

In returning I met at New York with the votes of the 
Assembly of Pennsylvania, by which it appeared that, not- 
withstanding his promise to me, he and the House were 
ah-eady in high contention ; and it was a continual battle 
between them as long as he retained the government. I 
had my share of it ; for, as soon as I got back to my seat in 
the Assembly, I was put on everj' committee for answering 
his speeches and messages, and by the committees alwaj'S 
desired to make the drafts. Our answers, as well as his 
messages, were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive ; 
and, as he knew I wrote for the Assembly, one might have 
imagined that when we met we could hardly avoid cutting 
throats. But he was so good-natured a man, that no personal 
difference between him and me was occasioned by the con- 
test, and we often dined together. 

One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we 
met in the street. " Franklin," said he, " you must go 
home with me and spend the evening ; I am to have some 



* BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 153 

company that you will like ; '' and, taking me by the arm, 
led me to his house. In gaj' conversation over our wine 
after supper, he told us jokingly that he much admired the 
idea of Sancho Panza, who, when it was proposed to give 
him a government, requested it might be a government of 
blacks; as then, if he could not agree with his people, he 
might sell them. One of his friends, who sat next to me, 
said, '•Franklin, why do you continue to side with those 
damned Quakers ? Had you not better sell them ? The 
Proprietor would give you a good price." " The Governor," 
said I, "has not yet blacked them enough." He indeed 
had laboured hard to blacken the Assembly in all his 
messages, but they wiped off his colouring as fast as he 
laid it on, and placed it, in return, thick upon his own face ; 
so that finding he was likely to be ncgrofied himself, he, as 
well as Mr. Hamilton, grew tired of the contest, and 
quitted the government. 

These public quarrels were all at bottom owing to the 
Proprietaries, our hereditary governors ; who, when any ex- 
]jcnse was to be incurred for the defence of their province, 
with incredible meanness, instructed their deputies to pass 
no Act for levying the necessary taxes unless their vast 
estates were in the same Act expressly exonerated ; and they 
had even taken the bonds of these deputies to observe such 
instructions. The Assemblies for three years held out 
against this injustice, though constrained to bend at last. 
At length Captain Denny, who was Governor IMorris's 
successor, ventured to disobey those instructions ; how that 
was brought about I shall show hereafter. 

But I am got forward too fast with my story ; there are 
still some transactions to be mentioned that happened 
during the administration of Governor Morris. 

War being in a manner commenced with France, the 
government of Massachusetts Bay projected an attack upon 



154 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 

Crown Point, and sent Mr. Quincy to Pennsylvania, and 
Mr. Pownall, afterwards Governor Pownall, to New YorJc, 
to solicit assistance. As I was in the Assembly, knew its 
temper, .and was Mr. Quincy's countryman, he applied to 
me for my influence and assistance. I dictated Lis address 
to them, which was well received. They voted an aid of 
ten thousand pounds, to be laid out in provisions. But 
the Governor refusing his assent to their biE (which in- 
cluded this with other sums granted for the use of the 
Crown), unless a clause were inserted exempting the pro- 
prietary estate from bearing any part of the tax that would 
be necessary; the Assembly, though very desirous of 
making their grant to New England effectual, were at a loss 
how to accomplish it. Mr. Quiucy laboured hard with the 
Governor to obtain his assent, but he was obstinate. 

I then suggested a method of doing the business without 
the Governor, by orders on the trustees of the Loan Office, 
which by law the Assembly had the right of drawing. 
There was indeed little or no money at the time in the 
office, and, therefore, I proposed that the orders should be 
payable in a year, and to bear an interest of five per cent. 
With these orders I supposed the provisions might easilj^ 
be purchased. The Assembly, with very Little hesitation, 
adopted the proposal. The orders were immediately 
printed, and I was one of the committee directed to sign 
and dispose of them. The fund for paying them was the 
interest of all the paper currency then extant in the pro- 
vince upon loan, together with the revenue arising from 
the excise, which being known to be more than sufficient, 
they obtained credit, and were not only taken in payment 
for the provisions, but many moneyed people, who had 
cash lying by them, vested it in those orders, which they 
found advantageous, as they bore interest while upon hand, 
and might on any occasion be used as money ; so that they 



BENJAMIN FRANKIilN. 155 

were eagerly all bought up, and in a few weeks none of 
them was to he seen. Thus this important affair was by my 
means completed. Mr. Quincy retiu-ned thanks to the 
Assembly in a handsome memorial, went home highly 
pleased with the success of his embassy, and ever after bore 
for me the most cordial and affectionate friendship. 

The British government, not choosing to pei-mit the 
union of the colonies as proposed at Albany, and to trust 
that union with theii" defence, lest they should thereby 
grow too military, and feel their own strength, suspicion 
and jealousies at this time being entertained of them, sent 
over General Braddock, with two regiments of reg-ular Eng- 
lish troops for that purpose. He landed at Alexandria in 
Virginia, and thence marched to Fredrictown in Maryland, 
where he halted for carriages. Our Assembly apprehending 
from some information, that he had conceived violent pre- 
judices against them, as averse to the service, wished me to 
wait upon him, not as from them, but as iDOStmaster-general, 
under the guise of proposing to settle with him the mode of 
conducting with most celerity and certainty the despatches 
between him and the governors of the several provinces, 
with whom he must necessarily have continual corres- 
pondence, and of which they proposed to pay the expense. 
My son accompanied me on this journey. 

We found the General at Frederictown, waiting impa- 
tiently for the return of those he had sent through the back 
parts of Maryland and Virginia to collect wagons. I 
stayed with him several days, dined with him daily, and 
had full opportunities of removing his prejudices, by the 
information of what the Assembly had before his arrival 
actually done, and were still willing to do, to facilitate his 
operations. When I was about to depart, the returns of 
wagons to be obtained were brought in, by which it ap- 
peai-ed that they amounted only to twenty-five, and not all 



156 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN-. 

of those were in serviceable condition. The General and all 
the ofiBcers were surprised, declared the expedition was then 
at an end, being impossible, and exclaimed against the 
ministers for ignorantly sending them into a country de- 
stitute of the means of conveying their stores, baggage, kc, 
not less than one hundred and fifty wagons being neces- 
sary. 

I happened to say, T thought it was a pity they had not 
been landed in Pennsylvania, as in that country almost 
every farmer had his wagon. The General eagerly laid 
hold of my words, and said, " Then you, Sir, who are a man 
of interest there, can probably procure them for us, and 1 
btg you will undertake it." I asked what terms were to be 
offered the owners of the wagons, and I was desired to put 
on paper the terms that appeared to me necessary. This I 
did, and they were agreed to, and a commision and instruc- 
tions accordingly prepared immediately. AMiat those terms 
were will appear in the advertisement I published as soon as 
I arrived at Lancaster, which being, from the great and 
sudden effect it produced, a piece of some curiosity, I shall 
insert it at length as follows: — ■ 

" Advertisement. 

" Lancaster, April 26th, 1755. 
" Whereas, one hundred and fifty wagons, with four horses to each 
wagon, and fifteen hundred saddle or pack-horses, are wanted for 
tlie service of his Majesty's forces, now about to rendezvous at 
AVill's Creek ; and his Excellency General Braddock having been 
pleased to empower me to contract for the hire of the same, I 
hereby give notice, that I shall attend for that piu-pose, at Lancaster, 
from th's day to next Wednesday evening ; and at York, from next 
Thursday morning till Friday evening ; where I shall be ready to 
agree for wagons and teajns, or single horses, on tlie following 
terms ; viz. I. That there shall be paid for each wagon, with fom- 
good horses and a driver, fifteen shillings per diem ; and for eacli 
able horse witii a pack-saddle, or other saddle and furniture, two 
shillings -per Aicm ; and for eich able horse without a saddle, 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 157 

eighteen jience per diem. 'J. That the pay commeuce from the time 
of their joining the forces, at "Will's Creek, which mnst be on or 
before the 20th of May ensuing, and that a reasonable allowHuce 
be paid over and above, for the time necessary for their travelling 
to Will's Creek, and home again after their discharge. 3. Each 
wagon and team, and every saddle or pack-horse is to be valued by 
indifferent persons, chosen between nie and the owner ; and, in case 
of the loss of any wagon, team, or other horse in the service, the 
price according to such valuation is to be allowed and paid. 4. 
Seven days' pay is to be advanced and paid in hand by me to the owner 
of each wagon and team, or horse, at the time of contracting, if re 
quired ; and the remainder to be paidi by General Braddock, or l>y 
the paymaster of the army, at the time of their discharge ; or from 
time to time, as it shall be demanded. .5. No drivers or wagons, or 
persons taking care of the hired horses, are on any account to be 
called iipon to do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed 
than in conducting or taking care of their carriages or horses. 6. 
All oats, Indian corn, or other forage, that wagons or horses bring 
to the camp, more than is necessary for the subsistence of the 
horses, is to be taken for the use of the army, and a reasonable 
price paid for the same. 

"Note. -My SOD, William Franklin, is empowered to enter into 
like contracts with any person in Cumberland County. 

" B. Feanklin." 

"To the Inhah Hants of the Counties of Li-incoMcr, York, and 

OMnherland. 
"Friends and Countrymen, 

" Being occasionally at the camp at Frederic a few days since, I 
found the General and officers extremely exasperated on account of 
their not being supplied with horses and carriages, which had been 
expected from this province, as most able to furnish them; but, 
I hrongh the dissensions between our Governor and Assembly, money 
had not been provided, nor any steps taken for that purpose. 

" It was proposed to send an armed force immediately into these 
counties, to seize as maiiy of the best carriages and horses as should 
be wanted, and compel as many persons into the service as would 
l>e necessary to drive and take care of them. 

"I apprehended that the progress of British soldiers through 
these counties on such an occasion, especially considering the 
temper they are in, and their resentment against us, would be 
attended with niaui' and great inconveniences to the inhabitants, 



158 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

and therefore more willingly took the trouble of trying first what 
might be done by fair and equitable means. The jieople of these 
back counties have lately complained to the Assembly, that a 
sufficient cun-ency was wanting ; you have an opportunity of re- 
ceiving and dividing among you a very considerable sum ; for, if the 
service of this expedition should continue, as it is more than 
brobable it will, for one hundred and twenty days, the hire of 
these wagons and horseslwill amount to upwards of thirty thousand 
pounds ; which will be paid you in silver and gold of the King's 
money. 

" The service will be light and easy, for the army will scarce 
march above twelve miles per day, and the wagons and baggage 
horses, as they carry those things that are absolutely necessary to 
the welfare of the army, must march with the army, aud no faster ; 
and are, for the army's sake, always placed where they can be most 
secure, whether in a march or in a camp. 

" If you are really, as I believe you are, good and loyal subjects 
to his Majesty, you may now do a most acceptable service, and 
make it easy to yourselves ; for thi-ee or four of such as camiot 
separately spare from the bjisiness of their plantations, a wagon 
and four horses and a driver, may do it together ; one furnishing 
the wagon, another one or two horses, and another the di-iver, 
and divide the pay proportionably between you. But, if you do 
not this service to your King and country voluntarily, when such 
good pay and reasonable terms are offered to you, yoiu- loyalty wUl 
be strongly suspected. The King's business must be done; so 
many brave troops, come so far for your defence, must not 
stand idle through your backwardness to do what may be reason- 
ably expected from you ; wagons and horses must be had ; violent 
measures will probably be used ; and you wUl be left to seek for a 
recompence where you can find it, and your case perhaps be little 
pitied or regarded. 

" I have no particular interest in this affair, as, except the 
satisfaction of endeavouring to do good, I shall have only my 
labour for my pains. If this method of obtaining the wagons and 
horses is not likely to succeed, I am obliged to send word to the 
General in fourteen days ; and I suppose Sir John St. Clair, the 
hussar, with a body of soldiers, will immediately enter the pro- 
vince for the purpose ; which I shall be sorry to hear, because T am 
very sincerely and truly your friend and well-wisher 

" B. Franklin." 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 159 

I received of tlie General about eight hundred pounds, to 
be disbursed in advance money to the wagon owners ; but, 
that sum being insufficient, I advanced upwards of two 
hundred pounds more ; and in two weeks, the one hun- 
dred and fifty wagons, with two hundred and fifty-nine 
carrying horses, were on their march for the camp. The 
advertisement promised jDayment according to the valua- 
ation in case any wagons or horses should be lost. The 
owners, however, alleging they did not know General 
Braddock, or what dependence might be had on his pro- 
mise, insisted on my bond for the performance ; which I 
accordingly gave them. 

While I was at the camp, supping one evening with the 
officers of Colonel Dunbar's regiment, he represented to 
me his concern for the subalterns, who, he said, were 
generally not in affluence, and could ill afford in this dear 
country to lay in the stores that might be necessary in so 
long a march, through a wilderness where nothing was to 
be purchased. I commiserated their case, and resolved to 
endeavour procuring them some relief. I said nothing, 
however, to him of my intention, but wrote the next 
morning to the Committee of the Assembly, who had the 
disposition of some public money, warmly recommending 
the case of these officers to their consideration, and pro- 
posing that a present should be 'sent them of necessaries 
and refreshments . My son, who had some experience of 
a camp Hfo, and of its wants, drew up a list for me, which 
I enclosed in my letter. The committee approved, and 
used such diligence, that, conducted by my son, the stores 
arrived at the camp as soon as the wagons. They consisted 
of twenty parcels, each contaiaing 

61bs. loaf sugar. 1 keg containing 201bs. good 

6 do. Muscovado do. l.utter. 

1 do. green tea, 2 dozen old Madeira wine. 



160 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

1 do. bohea do. tea. "J gallous Jamaica spirits. 

6 do. gTouud coffee. 1 bottle flour of mustard. 

6 do. chocolate. 2 well-cured hams. 

i chest best white biscuit. A dozen dried tongues. 

^Ib. pepper. 61bs. rice 

1 quart white vinegar. 61bs. i-aisins. 



These parcels, well packed, were placed on as man>' 
horses, each parcel, with the horse, being intended as a 
present for one officer. They were very thankfully received, 
and the kindness acknowledged by letters to me, from the 
colonels of both regiments, in the most grateful terms. 
The General, too, was highly satisfied witli my conduct in 
procuring him the wagons, and readily paid my account of 
disbursements ; thanking mc repeatedly, and requesting 
my further assistance in sending provisions after him. I 
undertook this also, and was busily employed in it till we 
heard of his defeat ; advancing for the service, of my own 
money, upwards of one thousand pounds sterling ; of which 
I sent him an account. It came to his hands, luckily for 
mc, a few days before the battle, and he returned me im- 
mediately an order on the paymaster for the round sum 
of one thousand pounds, leaving the remainder to the 
next account. I consider this payment as good luck, 
having never been able to obtain the remainder ; of which 
more hereafter. 

This General was, I think, a brave man, and might pro- 
bably have made a figure as a good officer in some European 
war. But he had too much self-confidence, too high an 
opinion of the validity of regular troops, and too mean a 
one of both Americans and Intiians. George Groghan, 
our Indian interpreter, joined him on his march with one 
hundred of those people, who might have been of great 
use to his army as guides and scouts, if he had treated them 



BRNJAMIN FRANKIilN. 161 

Kindly ; but he sliglated and neglected them, and they grad- 
ually left him. 

In conversation with him one day, he was giving me 
some account of his intended progress. " After taking 
Fort Duquesne," said he, " I am to proceed to Niagara ; 
and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will 
allow time, and I suppose it will ; for Duquesne can hardly 
detain me above three or four days, and then I see nothing 
that can obstruct my march to Niagara." Having before 
revolved in. my mind the long line his army must make in 
their march by a very narrow road, to be cut for them 
through the woods and bushes, and also what I had read of 
a former defeat of fifteen hundred French, who invaded the 
Illinois country, I had conceived some doubts and some 
fears for the event of the campaign. But I ventured only 
to say^ " To be sure, Sir, if you arrive well before Duquesne, 
with these fine troops, so well provided with artillery, the 
fort, though completely fortified, and assisted with a very 
strong garrison, can probably make but a short resistance. 
The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your march, 
is from the ambuscades of the Indians, who, by constant 
practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them ; and 
the slender line, near four miles long, which your army 
must make, may expose it to be attacked by surprise in its 
flanks, and to be cut like a thread into several pieces, 
which, from their distance cannot come up in time to support 
each other." 

He smiled at my ignorance, and replied, " These savages 
may indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American 
militia, but upon the King's regular and disciplined troops, 
Sir, it is impossible tht;y should make any impression." I 
was conscious of aii impropriety in my disputing with a 
military man in matters of his profession, and said no more. 
The enemy, however, did not take the advantage of his 
F— 96 



162 BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 

army, which. I apprehended its long line of march exposed 
it to, but let it advance without interruption tiU within nine 
miles of the place ; and then, when more in a body (for 
it had just passed a river, where the front had halted till 
all were come over,) and in a more open part of the woods 
than any it had passed, attacked its advanced guard by a 
heavy lire from behind trees and bushes ; which was the 
first intelligence the General had of an enemy's being near 
him. This guard being disordered, the General hurried the 
troops up to their assistance, which was done in great 
confusion through wagons, baggage, and cattle, and pre- 
sently the fire came upon their ilank. The officers being 
on horseback were more easily distinguished, picked out 
as marks, and fell very fast : and the soldiei-s were crowded 
together in a huddle, having or hearing no orders, and 
standing to be shot at till two-thirds of them were killed, 
and then, being seized with a panic, the remainder Hed with 
precipitation. 

The wagoners took each a horse out of his team and 
scampered. Their example was immediately followed by 
others, so that all the wagons, provisions, artillery, and 
stores, were left to the enemy. The General being 
wounded, was brought off with difficulty ; his secretary, 
Mr. Shirley, was killed by his side, and out of eighty-six 
officers, sixty-three were kiUed or wounded, and seven hun- 
dred and fourteen men killed of eleven hundred. These 
eleven hundred had been picked men from the whole army ; 
the rest had been left behind with Colonel Dunbar, who 
was to foUow with the heavier part of the stores, provisions, 
and baggage. The flyers, not being pursued, arrived at 
Dunbar's camp, and the panic they brought with them 
instantly seized him and aU his people. And, though he 
had now above one thousand men, and the enemy who had 
beaten Braddock did not at most exceed four himdi-ed 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 163 

Indians and French together, instead of proceeding, and 
endeavouring to recover some of the lost honour, he ordered 
all the stores, ammunition, &c., to be destroyed, that he 
might have more horses to assist his flight towards the 
settlements, and less lumber to remove. He was there met 
with requests from the governors of Virginia, Maryland, 
and Pennsylvania, that he would post his troops on the 
frontiers, so as to afford some protection to the inhabitants, 
but he continued his hasty march through all the country, 
not thinking himself safe till he , arrived at Philadelphia, 
where the inhabitants could protect him. This whole 
transaction gave us Americans the first suspicion, that our 
exalted ideas of the prowess of British regular troops had 
not been well founded. 

In their first march, too, from their landing till they got 
beyond the settlements, they had plundered and stripped the 
inhabitants, totally ruining some poor families, besides in- 
sulting, abusing, and confining the people, if they remon- 
strated. This was enough to put us out of conceit of such 
defenders, if we had really wanted any. How different was 
the conduct of our French friends in 1781, who, during a 
march through the most inhabited part of our country, from 
Rhode Island to Virginia, near seven hundred miles, occa- 
sioned not the smallest complaint for the loss of a pig, a 
chicken, or even an apple. 

Captain Orme, who was one of the General's aides-de- 
camp, and, being grievously wounded, was brought off 
with him, and continued with him to his death, which 
happened in a few days, told me, that he was totally 
silent all the first day, and at night only said, "Who 
would have thought it?" That he was silent again the 
following day, saying only at last, " We shall better know 
how to deal with them another time," and died in a few 
minutes after. 



164 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

The secretary's papers, with all the General's orders, in- 
structions, and correspondence, falling into the enemy's 
hands, they selected and translated into French a number of 
the articles, which they printed, to prove the hostile inten- 
tions of the British court before the declaration of war. 
Among these I saw some letters of the General to the 
ministry, speaking highly of the great service I had ren- 
dered the aimy, and recommending me to their notice. 
Da^^d Hume, who was some years afterwards secretary to 
Lord Hertford, when minister in France, and afterwards 
to General Conway, when Secretary of State, told me he 
had seen among the papers in that office, letters from Brad- 
dock, highly recommending me. But the expedition having 
been unfortunate, my service, it seems, was not thought of 
much value, for those recommendations were never of any 
use to me. 

As to rewards from himself, I asked only one, which was, 
that he would give orders to his officers not to enlist any 
more of ovir bought servants, and that he would discharge 
such as had been already enlisted. This he readily granted, 
and several were accordingly returned to their masters, on 
my application. Dunbar, when the command devolved 
on him, was not so generous. He being at Philadelphia, 
on his retreat, or rather flight, I applied to him for the dis- 
charge of the servants of three poor farmers of Lancaster 
Count}', that he had enlisted, reminding him of the late 
General's orders on that head. He promised me that if 
the masters would come to him at Trenton, where ho should 
be in a few days on his march to New York, he would there 
deliver their men to them. They accordingly were at the 
expense and trouble of going to Trenton, and there he re- 
fused to perform his promise, to their gi-eat loss and dis- 
appointment. 

As soon as the loss of the wagons and horses was 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 165 

generally known, all the owners came ux^on me for the 
valuation which I had given hond to pay. Their demands 
gave me a great deal of trouble. I acquainted them that 
the money was ready in the paymaster's hands, but the 
order for paying it must first be obtained from General 
Shirley, and that I had applied for it, but he being at 
a distance, an answer could not soon be received, and they 
must have patience. All this, however, was not suf- 
ficient to satisfy them, and some began to sue me. General 
Shirley at length relieved me from this terrible situation, by 
appointing commissioners to examine the claims, and ordering 
payment. They amounted to near twenty thousand pounds, 
which to pay would have ruined me. 

Before we had the news of this defeat, the two Doctors 
Bond came to me with a subscription paper for raising 
money to defray the expense of a gi-and firework, which it 
was intended to exhibit at a rejoicing on receiving the news 
of our taking Fort Duquesne. I looked grave, and said it 
would, I thought, bo time enough to prepare the rejoicing 
when we knew we should have occasion to rejoice. They 
seemed sm-prised that I did not immediately comply with 
their proposal. " Why the d — 1 ! " said one of them, " you 
surely don't suppose that the fort will not be taken h " " I 
don't know that it will not be taken, but T know that the 
events of war are subject to great uncertainty." I gave 
them the reasons of mj^ doubting; the subscription was 
dropped, and the projectors thereby missed the mortifica- 
tion they would have undergone if the firework had been 
prepared. Dr. Bond, on some other occasion afterwards, 
said that he did not like Franklin's forebodings. 



166 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Governor Mokkis, who had continually worried the 
Assembly with message after message before the defeat of 
Braddock, to beat them into the making of Acts to raise 
money for the defence of the province, without taxing 
among others the proprietary estates, and had rejected all 
theu- Bills for not having such an exempting clause, now 
redoubled his attacks with more hope of success, the danger 
and necessity being greater. The Assembly, however, con- 
tinued firm, believing they had justice on their side, and 
that it would be giving up an essential right if they suffered 
the Governor to amend their money bills. In one of the 
last, indeed, which was for granting fifty thousand pounds, 
his proposed amendment was only of a single word. The 
Bill expressed, " that aU estates real and personal were to 
be taxed ; those of the Proprietaries not excepted." Hit 
amendment was : for not, read only. A small, but very 
material alteration. However, when the news of the 
disaster reached England, our friends there, whom we had 
taken care to furnish with aU the Assembly's answers to the 
Governor's messages, raised a clamour against the Proprie- 
taries for their meanness and injustice in giving their 
Governor such instructions ; some going so far as to say, 
that by obstructing the defence of their province, they for- 
feited their right to it. They were intimidated by this, and 
sent orders to their Receiver- General to add five thousand 
pounds of their money to whatever sum might be given by 
the Assembly for such purpose. 

This, being testified to the House, was accepted in lieu of 
their share of a general tax ; and a new Bill was fomied 



BENJAMIN FKANKLTN. 167 

■with an exempting clause, which passed accordingly. By 
this Act I was appointed one of the commissioners for dis- 
posing of the money — sixty thousand pounds. I had been 
active in modelling the BiU and procuring its passage, and 
had at the same time drawn one for establishing and dis- 
ciplining a voluntary militia, which I carried thi'ough the 
House without much difficulty, as care was taken in it to 
leave the Quakers at liberty. To promote the association 
necessary to form the militia, I wrote a Dialogue stating 
and answering all the objections I could think of to such a 
militia, which was printed, and had, as I thought, great 
effect. 

While the several companies in the city and country were 
forming, and learning theii- exercise, the Governor prevailed 
with me to take charge of our north-western frontier, which 
was infested by the enemy, and provide for the defence of 
the inhabitants by raising troops and building a line of forts. 
I undertook this military business, though I did not con- 
ceive myself well qualified for it. He gave me a commis- 
sion with full powers, and a parcel of blank commissions 
for officers, to be given to whom I thought fit. I had but 
little difficulty in raising men, having soon live hundred 
and sixty under my command. J\ly son, who had in the 
preceding war been an officer in the army raised against 
Canada, was my aide-de-camp, and of great use to me. The 
Indians had burned Gnadenhutten, a village settled by the 
Moravians, and massacred the inhabitants ; but the place 
was thought a good situation for one of the forts. 

In order to march thither, I assembled the companies at 
Bethlehem, the chief establishment of these people. I was sur- 
prised to find it in so good a posture of defence ; the destruc- 
tion of Gnadenhutten had made them apprehend danger. 
The principal buildings were defended by a stockade ; 
they had purchased a quantity of arms and ammunition 



J.OS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

from New York, and had even placed quantities of 
small paving stones between the windows of their high 
stone houses, for their women to throw them down upon 
the heads of any Indians that should attempt to force into 
them. The armed brethren, too, kept watch and relieved 
each other on guard, as methodioallj^ as in any gai-rison 
town. In conversation with the Bishop, Spangenberg, I 
mentioned my surprise ; for, knowing they had obtained an 
Act of Parliament exempting them from military duties in 
the colonies, I had supposed they were conscientiously 
scrupulous of bearing arms. He answered me, that it was 
not one of their established principles ; but that, at the time 
of their obtaining that Act, it was thought to be a principle 
with many of their people. On this occasion, however, 
they, to their surprise, found it adopted by but a few. It 
seems they were either deceived in themselves, or deceived 
the Parliament; but common sense, aided by present 
danger, will sometimes be too strong for whimsical 
opinions. 

It was the beginning of January when we set out upon 
this business of bmlding forts. I sent one detachment to- 
wards the Minisink, with instructions to erect one for the 
security of that upper part of the country ; and another to 
the lower part, with similar instructions ; and I concluded 
to go myself with the rest of my force to Gnadenhutten, 
where a fort was thought more immediately necessary. The 
Moravians procured me five wagons for our tools, stores, and 



Just before we had left Bethlehem, eleven farmers, who 
had been driven from their plantations by the Indians, 
came to me requesting a supply of fire-arms, that they might 
go back and bring off their cattle. I gave them each a gun 
with suitable ammunition. We had not marched many 
miles, before it began to rain, and it continued rainino- ail 



BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 169 

day ; there were no habitations on the road to shelter us, 
till we arrived near night at the house of a German, where, 
and in his barn, we were all huddled together, as wot as 
water could make us. It was well we were not attacked in 
our march, for our arms were of the most ordinary sort, and 
our men could not keep the locks of their guns dry. The 
Indians are dexterous in contrivances for that purpose, 
which we had not. They met that day the eleven poor 
farmers above mentioned, and killed ten of them. The one 
that escaped infoi-med us, that his and his companions' guns 
would not go off, the priming being wet with the rain. 

The next day being fair, we continued our march, and 
arrived at the desolated Gnadenhutten. There was a miU 
near, round which were left several pine boards, with which 
we soon hutted ourselves ; an operation the more necessary 
at that inclement season, as we had no tents. Oirr first work 
was to bury more effectually the dead we found there, who 
had been half interred by the country people. 

The next morning om- fort was planned and marked out, 
the circumference measuring four hundred and fifty-five 
feet, which would require as many palisades to be made, one 
with another, of a foot diameter each. Our axes, of which 
we had seventy, were immediately set to work to cut down 
trees ; and, our men being dexterous in the use of them, 
great despatch was made. Seeing the trees fall so fast, I 
had the curiosity to look at my watch when two men began 
to cut at a pine ; in six minutes they had it upon the 
gi'ound, and I found it of fourteen inches diameter. Each 
pine made three palisades of eighteen feet long, pointed at 
one end, "While these were preparing, our other men dug a 
trench all round, of three feet deep, in which the palisades 
were to be planted ; and, the bodies being taken oft" our 
wagons, and the fore and hind wheels separated, by taking 
out the pin which united the two parts of the perch, we had 
F»— 96 



170 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

tea carriages, with two horses each, to bring the palisades 
from the woods to the spot. When they were set up, our 
carpenters built a platf onn of boards all round within, about 
six feet high, for the men to stand on when to fire through 
the loop holes. We had one swivel gun, wnich we mounted 
on one of the angles, and fired it as soon as fixed, to let the 
Indians know, if any were within hearing, that Ave had such 
pieces ; and thus our fort, if that name may be given to so 
miserable a stockade, was finished in a week, though it 
rained so hard every other day, that the men could not 
work. 

This gave me occasion to observe, that, when men are 
employed, they are best contented ; for on the days they 
worked they were good-natui-ed and cheerful, and, with the 
consciousness of having done a good day's work, they spent 
the evening jolHly ; but on our idle days they were muti- 
nous and quarrelsome, finding fault with the pork, the 
bread, &c., and were continually in bad humour, which put 
me in mind of a sea captain, whose rule it was to keep his 
men constantly at work ; and when his mate once told him 
that they had done everything, and there was nothing 
further to employ them about; "Oh!" said he, "make 
them scour the anchor." 

This kind of fort, however contemptible, is a sufficient 
defence against Indians, who have no cannon. Finding 
oui-selves now posted secui-ely, and having a place to retreat 
to on occasion, we ventured out in parties to scour the ad- 
jacent country. We met with no Indians, but we found 
the places on the neighbouring hills, where they had lain to 
watch our proceedings. There was an art rn_their contrivance 
of those places that seems worth mentioning. It being winter, 
a fire was necessary for them ; but a common fire on the sur- 
face of the ground would by its light have discovered their 
position at a distance. They had, therefore, dug holes in 



BKNJAMIN FKANKLIN. 171 

the ground about three feet in diameter, and somewhat 
deeper ; we found where they had with their hatchets cut 
off the charcoal from the sides of burnt logs lying ia the 
woods. With these coals they had made small fires in the 
bottom of the holes, and we observed among the weeds and 
grass the prints 'of their bodies, made by their lying all 
round with their legs hanging do\vn in the holes to keep 
their feet warm ; which with them is an essential point. 
This kind of fire so managed could not discover them either 
by its light, flume, sparks, or even smoke ; it appeared that 
the number was not great, and it seems they saw we were 
too many to be attacked by them with prospect of advan- 
tage. 

We had for our chaplain a zealous Presbyterian minister, 
Mr. Beatty, who complained to me that the men did not 
generally attend his prayers and exhortations. When they 
enlisted they were promised, besides pay and provisions, a 
gill of rum a day, which was punctually served out to them, 
half in the morning and the other half in the evening, and 
I observed they were punctual in attending to receive it ; 
upon which I said to Mr. Beatty, "It is perhaps below the 
dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum, 
but if you were only to distribute it out after prayers 
you would have them all about you." He liked the 
thought, undertook the task, and, with the help of a few 
hands to measm-e out the liquor, executed it to satis- 
faction, and never were prayers more generally and more 
punctually attended. So that I think this method pre- 
ferable to the punishment inflicted by some military laws 
for non-attendance on divine service. 

I had hardly fimished this business and got my fort well 
stored with provisions when I received a letter from the 
Governor, acquainting me that he had called the Assembly, 
and wished my attendance there if the posture of affairs on 



172 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

the frontiers was such that my remaining there was no 
longer necessary. My friends, too, of the Assembly press- 
ing me by their letters to be, if possible, at the meeting, 
and my three intended forts being now completed and the 
inhabitants contented to remain on their farms under that 
protection, I resolved to return ; the more willingly as a 
New England officer, Colonel Clapham, experienced in 
Indian war, being on a visit to our establishment, con- 
sented to accept the command. I gave him a commission, 
and, parading the garrison, had it read before them, and 
introduced him to them as an officer who, from his skill in 
military affairs, was much more fit to command them than 
myself, and giving them a little exhortation, took my 
leave. I was escorted as far as Bethlehem, where I rested 
a few days to recover from the fatigue I had undergone. 
The first night, Ij^ng in a good bed, I could hardly sleep, 
it was 80 different from my hard lodging on the floor of a 
hut at Gnadenhutten with only a blanket or two. 

While at Bethlehem, I inquired a little into the prac- 
tices of the Moravians ; some of them had accompanied me, 
and all were very kind to me. I found they worked for a 
common stock, ate at common tables, and slept in common 
dormitories, great numbers together. In the dormitories I 
observed loopholes, at certain distances all along just under 
the ceiling, which I thought judiciously placed for change 
of air. I went to their church, where I was entertained 
with good music, the organ being accompanied with violins, 
hautboys, flutes, clarinets, &c. I understood their sermons 
were not usually preached to mixed congregations of men, 
women, and children, as is our common practice ; but that 
they assembled, sometimes the married men, at other times 
their wives, then the young men, the young women, and 
the little children ; each division by itself. The sermon I 
heard was to the latter, who came in. and were placed in 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 173 

rows on benches : the boys under the conduct of a young 
man, their tutor, and the girls conducted by a young 
woman. The discoui-se seemed well adapted to their capa- 
cities, and was delivered in a pleasing, familiar manner, 
coaxing them, as it were, to be good. They behaved very 
orderly, but looked pale and unhealthy ; which made me 
suspect they were kept too much within doors, or not 
allowed sufficient exercise. 

I inquired concerning the Jloravian marriages, whether 
the report was true that they were by lot. I was told that 
lots were used only in particular cases; that generally 
when a young man found himself disposed to marry, he 
informed the elders of his class, who consulted the elder 
ladies that governed the young women. As these elders 
of the different sexes were well acquainted with the 
tempers and dispositions of their respective pupils, they 
could best judge what matches were suitable, and their 
judgments were generally acquiesced in. But if, for example, 
it should happen that two or three young women were 
found to be equally proper for the young man, the lot was 
then recurred to. I objected if the matches are not made 
by the mutual choice of the parties, some of them may 
chance to be very unhappy. "And so they may," an- 
swered my informer, " if you let the parties choose for 
themselves." Which indeed I could not deny. 

Being returned to Philadelphia, I found the Association 
went on with great success. The inhabitants, that were 
not Quakers, having pretty generally come into it, formed 
themselves into companies, and chose their captains, lieu- 
tenants, and ensigns, according to the new law. Dr. Bond 
visited me, and gave me an account of the pains he had 
taken to spread a general good liking to the law, and 
ascribed much to those endeavours. I had the vanity to 
ascribe all to my JJialoyue ; however, not knowing but that 



174 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 

he might be in the right, I let him enjoy his opinion 
which I take to be generally the best way in such cases. 
The officers, meeting, chose me to be colonel of the regiment, 
which I this time accepted. I forget how many companies 
we had, but we paraded about twelve hundred weU-looking 
men, with a company of artillery, who had been furnished 
with six brass field-pieces, which they had become so expert 
in the use of, as to fire twelve times in a minute. The first 
time I reviewed my regiment they accompanied me to my 
house, and would salute me with some roimds fired before 
my door, which shook down and broke several glasses of my 
electrical apparatus. And my new honour proved not much 
less brittle ; for all our commissions were soon after broken, 
by a repeal of the law in England. 

During this short time of my colonelship, being about to 
set out on a journey to Virginia, the officers of my regiment 
took it into their heads, that it would be proper for them 
to escort me out of town, as far as the Lower Ferry. Just as 
I was getting on horseback, they came to my door, between 
thirty and forty, mounted, and aU in their unifonns. I 
had not been previouslj- acquainted with their project, or I 
should have prevented it, being naturally averse to 
the assuming of state on any occasion ; and I was a good 
deal chagrined at their appearance, as I could not avoid 
their accompanying me. What made it worse was, that, as 
soon as we began to move, they di-ew their swords, and 
• rode with them naked all the way. Somebody wrote an 
account of this to the Proprietor, and it gave him great 
offence. No such honour had been paid to him, when in 
the province ; nor to any of his governors ; and he said, it 
was only proper to princes of the blood royal ; which may 
be true for aught I know^, who was, and still am, ignorant 
of the etiquette in such cases. 

This siUy affair, however, greatly increased his rancour 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 175 

against me, which was "before considerable on account of 
my conduct in the Assembly respecting the exemption of 
his estate from taxation, which I had always opposed very 
warmly, and not without severe reflections on the mean- 
ness and injustice of contending for it. He accused me to 
the ministry, as being the great obstacle to the Kiiig's ser- 
vice, preventing, by my influence in the House, the proper 
form of the bills for raising money; and he instanced 
the parade with my officers, as a proof of my having an 
intention to take the government of the province out of his 
hands by force. He also applied to Sir Everard Fawkener, 
the Postmaster-general, to deprive me of my office. But 
it had no other effect than to procure from Sir Everard a 
gentle admonition. 

Notwithstanding the continual wrangle between the 
Governor and the House, in which I aa a member had so 
large a share, there still subsisted a civil intercourse 
between that gentleman and myself, and we never had any 
personal difference. I have sometimes since thought, that 
his little or no resentment against me, for the answers it 
was known I drew up to his messages, might be the effect 
of professional habit, and that, being bred a lawyer, he 
might consider us both as merely advocates for contending 
clients in a suit ; he for the Proprietaries, and I for the 
Assembly. He would therefore sometimes call in a friendly 
way to advise with me on difficult points ; and sometimes, 
though not often, take my advice. 

We acted in concert to supply Braddock's army with 
provisions ; and, when the shocking news arrived of his 
defeat, the Governor sent in haste for me, to consult with 
him on measures for preventing the desertion of the back 
counties. I forget now the advice I gave ; but I think it 
was, that Dunbar should be written to, and prevailed with, 
if possible, to post his troops on the frontiers for their 



176 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

protection, until, by reinforcements from tlie colonies, he 
might be able to proceed in the expedition. And, after my 
return from the frontier, he would have had me undertake 
the conduct of such an expedition with provincial troops, 
for the reduction of Fort Duquesne, Dunbar and his men 
being otherwise employed ; and he proposed to commission 
me as general. I had not so good an opinion of my 
military abihties as he professed to have, and I believe his 
professions must have exceeded his real sentiments ; but 
probably he might think, that my popularity would 
facilitate the business with the men, and influence in the 
Assembly the grant of money to pay for it ; and that, per- 
haps without taxing the Proprietary. Finding me not so 
forward to engage as he expected, the project was dropped ; 
and he soon after left the government, being superseded by 
Captain Denny. 

Before I proceed in relating the part I had in public 
affairs under this new Governor's administration, it may 
not be amiss to give here some account of the rise and pro- 
gress of my philosophical reputation. 

In 1746, being in Boston, I met there with a Dr. Spence, 
who was lately arrived from Scotland, and showed me 
some electric experiments. They were imperfectly per- 
formed, as he was not very expert; but, being on a 
subject quite new to me, they equally surprised and pleased 
me. Soon after my return to Philadelphia, our library 
company received from Mr. Peter CoUinson, Fellow of the 
Royal Society of London, a present of a glass tube, with 
some account of the use of it in making such experiments. 
I eagerly seized the opportunity of repeating what I had 
seen at Boston; and, by much practice, acquired great 
readiness in performing those also, which we had an 
account of from England, adding a number of new ones. 
I say much practice, for my house was continually full, 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 177 

for some time, with persons who came to see these new 
wonders. 

To divide a little this incumbrance among my friends, I 
caused a number of similar tubes to be blown in our glass- 
house, with which they f lu-nished themselves, so that we had 
at length several performers. Among these the principal 
was Mr. Kinnersley, an ingenious neighbour, who, being 
out of business, I encouraged him to undertake showing the 
experiments for money, and drew up for him two lectures, 
in which the experiments were ranged in such order, and 
accompanied with explanations in such method, as that the 
foregoing should assist in comprehending the following. 
He procured an elegant apparatus for the purpose, in which 
all the little machines that I had roughly made for myself 
were neatly formed by instrument makers. His lectures 
were well attended, and gave great satisfaction ; and after 
some time he went through the colonies, exhibiting them in 
every capital town, and picked up some money. In the 
"West India Islands, indeed, it was with difficulty the 
experiments could be made, from the general moisture of 
the air. 

Obliged as we were to Mi-. Collinson for the present of 
the tube, &c., I thought it right he should be informed of 
our success in using it, and wrote him several letters con- 
taining accoimts of our experiments. He got them read in 
the Royal Society, where they were not at first thought 
woi-th so much notice as to be printed in their Transactions. 
One paper, which I wrote for Mr. Kinnersley, on the same- 
ness of lightning with electricity, I sent to Mr. Mitchel an 
acquaintance of mine, and one of the Members also of that 
Society, who wi'ote me word, that it had been read, but was 
laughed at by the connoisseurs. The papers, however, 
being shown to Dr. FothergiU, he thought them of too 
much value to be stifled, and advised the printing of them. 



178 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

Mr. ColliiLSOii then gave them to Cave for publication in 
his Gentleman's Magazine, but he chose to print them 
separately in a pamphlet, and Dr. Fothergill wrote the 
preface. Cave, it seems, judged rightly Tor his profession, 
for by the additions, that arrived afterwards, they swelled 
to a quarto volume ; which has had five editions, and cost 
him nothing for copy-money. 

It was, however, some time before those papers were 
much taken notice of in England. A copy of them 
happening to fall into the hands of the Count de Buffon, a 
philosopher, deservedly of great reputation in France, and 
indeed all over Europe, he prevailed with M. Dubourg to 
translate them into French ; and they were printed at 
Paris. The publication offended the Abbe Nollet, Precep- 
tor in Natural Philosophy to the Royal Family, and an 
able experimenter, who had formed and published a theory 
of electricity, which then had the general vogue. He 
could not at first believe, that such a work came from 
America, and said it must have been fabricated by his 
enemies at Paris to oppose his system. Afterwards, having 
been assured that there really existed such a person as 
Franklin at Philadelphia, which he had doubted, he wrote 
and published a volume of Letters, chiefly addressed to me, 
defending his theory, and denA^ng the verity of my experi- 
ments, and of the positions deduced from them. 

I once purposed answering the Abbe, and actually began 
the answer ; but, on consideration that my writings con- 
tained a description of experiments which any one ihighl 
repeat and verify, and, if not to be verified, could not be 
defended ; or of observations offered as conjectures, and not 
delivered dogmatically, therefore not laying me under any 
obligation to defend them ; and reflecting, that a dispute 
between two persons, written in different languages, might 
be lengthened greatly by mistranslations, and thence mis- 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 179 

conceptions of one another's meaning, much of one of the 
Abbe's letters being founded on an error in the translation, 
I concluded to let my papers shift for themselves, believing 
it was better to spend what time I could spare from puhlic 
business in making new experiments, than in disputing 
about those already made. I therefore never answered M. 
Nollet ; and the event gave me no cause to repent my 
silence ; for my friend M. Le Roy, of the Eoyal Academy 
of Sciences, took up my cause and refuted him ; my hook 
was translated into the Italian, German, and Latin 
languages; and the doctrine it contained was hy degrees 
generally adopted by the philosophers of Europe, in prefer- 
ence to that of the Abbe ; so that he lived to see himself 
the last of his sect, except Monsieur B — , of Paris, his 
Sieve and immediate disciple. 

WHiat gave my book the more sudden and general 
celebrity, was the success of one of its proposed experiments, 
made by Messieurs Dalibard and De Lor at Marley, for 
drawing lightning from the clouds. This engaged the 
public attention everywhere. M. De Lor, who had an 
apparatus for experimental philosophy, and lectured in that 
branch of science, undertook to repeat what he called the 
Philadelphia Experiments ; and, after they were performed 
before the Bang and court, all the curious of Paris flocked 
to see them. I will not swell this narrative with an 
account of that capital experiment, nor of the infinite 
pleasure I received in the success of a similar one I made 
soon after with a kite at Philadelphia, as both are to be 
found in the histories of electricity. 

Dr. Wright, an English phj sician, when at Paris, wrote 
to a friend, who was of the Royal Society, an account of the 
high esteem my experiments were in among the learned 
abroad, and of their wonder, that my writings had been so 
little noticed in England. The Society on this resumed the 



180 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

consideration of the letters that liad been read to them ; and 
the celebrated Dr. Watson drew up a summary- account of 
them, and of all I had afterwards sent to England on the 
subject; which he accompanied with seme praise of the 
writer. This summary was then printed in their Trans- 
actions ; and, some members of the Society in London, par- 
ticularly the very ingenious Mr. Canton, having verified the 
experiment of procuring lightning from the clouds by a 
pointed rod, and acquainted them with the success, they soon 
made me more than amends for the slight with which they 
had before treated me. Without my having made any 
application for that honour, they chose me a member ; and 
voted, that I should be excused the customary paj^ments, 
which would have amoimted to twenty-five guineas ; and ever 
since have given me their Transactions gratis.* They also 



• Dr. Franklin gives a farther account of his election, in a letter 
to his son, Governor Franklin, from which the following is an ex- 
tract : — 

" London, 19 December, 1767. 

" We have had an ugly affair at the Koyal Society lately. One 
Dacosta, a Jew, who, as our clerk, was intrusted with collecting our 
moneys, had been so unfaithful as to embezzle near thirteen hun- 
dred pounds in fovu- years. Being one of the Council this year, as 
well as the last, I liave been employed all the last week in attending 
the inquiry into, and unravelling, his accounts, in order to come at 
a full knowledge of his frauds. His securities are bound in one 
thousand pounds to the Society, which they will pay, but we shall 
probably lose the rest. He had this year received twenty-six 
admission payments of twenty-five guineas each, which he did not 
bring to account. 

" While attending to this afifair, I had an opportunity of looking 
over the old council-books and journals of the Society, and, having 
a curiosity to see how I came in, of which I had never been informed, 
I looked back for the minutes relating to it. Tou must know, it is 
not usual to admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; 
andare commendatory certificate in favour of the candidate, signed by 
at least three of the members, is by our rule to be presented to the 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 181 

presented me with the gold medal of Sir Godfrey Copley, 
for the j-ear 1753, the delivery of which was accompanied by 
a very handsome speech of the president. Lord Macclesfield, 
wherein I was highly honoured. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the 
before-mentioned medal from the Royal Society, which he 
presented to me at an entertainment given him by the city. 
He accompanied it with very polite expressions of his esteem 
for me, having, as he said, been long acquainted with my 
character. After dinner, when the company, as was custom- 
ary at that time, were engaged in drinking, he took me aside 
into another room, and acquainted me, that he had been 
advised by his friends in England to cultivate a friendship 
with me, as one who was capable of giving him the best ad- 
vice, and of contributing most effectually to the making his 

Society, expressing that lie is desirous of that honour, and is so and 
so qualified. As I never had asked, or expected the honour, I 
was, as I said before, curious to see how the business was managed. 
I found that the certificate, worded very .advantageously for me, was 
signed by Lord Macclesfield, then President, Lord Parker, and Lord 
"Willoughby ; that the election was by a unanimous vote : and, the 
honour being voluntarily conferred by the Society, unsolicited by 
me, it was thought wrong to demand or receive the usual fees or 
composition ; so that my name was entered on the list with a vote 
of council, that I teas not to pan anything. And accordingly nothing 
has ever been demanded of me. Those who are admitted in the 
common way, pay five guineas admission fees, and two guineas and 
a half yearly contributions, or twenty-five guineas down, in lieu of 
it. lu my case a substantial favour accompanied the honour."— 
W.T.F. 



182 BENJAMIN FKANKLIN. 

administration easy. That he therefore desired of all things 
to have a good understanding with me, and he hegged me 
to be assured of his readiness on all occasions to render me 
every service that might be in his power. He said much to 
me also of the Proprietor's good disposition towards the 
province, and of the advantage it would be to us all, and to 
me in particular, if the opposition that had been so long 
continued to his measures was dropped, and harmony re- 
stored between him and the people ; in effecting which it 
was thought no one could be more serviceable than myself ; 
and I might depend on adequate acknowledgments and 
recompenses. The drinkers, finding we did not return 
immediately to the table, sent us a decanter of Madeira, 
which the Governor made a liberal use of, and in proportion 
became more profuse of his solicitations and promises. 

My answers were to this purpose ; that my circumstances, 
thanks to Grod, were such as to make Proprietary favours 
unnecessary to me ; and that, being a member of the 
Assembly, I could not possibly accept of any ; that, how- 
ever, I had no personal enmity to the Proprietary, and 
that, whenever the public measures he proposed should 
appear to be for the good of the people, no one would 
espouse and forward them more zealously than myself ; my 
past opposition having been founded on this, that the 
measures which had been urged were evidently intended to 
serve the Proprietary interest, with great prejudice to that 
of the people. That I was much obliged to him (the 
Governor) for his profession of regard to- me, and that he 
might rely on everything in my power to render his ad- 
ministration as easy to him as possible, hoping, at the same 
time, that he had not brought with him the same im- 
fortimate instructions his predecessors had been hampered 
with. 

On this he did not then explain himself ; but when he 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 183 

aftprwards came to do business witli the Assembly, they 
appeared again, the disputes were renewed, and I was as 
active as ever in the opposition, being the penman, first of 
the request to have a communication of the instructions, 
and then of the remarks upon them, which may be found in 
the Votes of the times, and in the Historical Review I 
afterwards published. But between us personally no 
enmity arose ; we were often together ; he was a man of 
letters, had seen much of the world, and was entertaining 
ind pleasing in conversation. He gave me information 
chat my old friend Ralph was still alive ; that he was es- 
teemed one of the best political writers in England ; had 
been employed in the dispute between Prince Frederick 
and the King, and had obtained a pension of three hundred 
poimds a-year ; that his reputation was indeed small as a 
poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the Dunciad ; but 
his prose was thought as good as any man's. 

The Assembly finally finding the Proprietary obstinately 
persisted in shackling the deputies with instructions incon- 
sistent, not only with the privileges of the people, but with 
the service of the crown, resolved to petition the King 
against them, and appointed me their agent to go over to 
England, to present and support the petition. The House 
had sent up a bill to the Governor, granting a sum of sixty 
thousand pounds for the King's use, (ten thousand pounds 
of which was subjected to the orders of the then General, 
Lord Loudoun,) which the Governor, in compliance with 
his instructions, absolutely refused to pass. 

I had agreed with' Captain Morris, of the packet at New 
York, for my passage, and my stores were put on board ; 
when Lord Loudoun arrived at Philadelphia, expressly, as 
he told me, to endeavour an accommodation between the 
the Governor and Assembly, that His Majesty's service 
might not be obstructed by their dissensions. Accordingly 



184 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

he desired the Governor and myseK to meet him, that he 
might hear what was to be said on both sides. We met and 
discussed the business. In behalf of the Assembly I urged 
the various arguments that may be fo'ind in the public 
papers of that time, which were of mj- writing, and are 
printed with the minutes of the Assembly ; and the Gover- 
nor pleaded his instructions, the bond he had given to 
observe them, and his ruin if he disobeyed ; yet seemed not 
unwilling to hazard himself, if Lord Loudoun would advise 
it. This his Lordship did not choose to do, though I once 
thought I had nearly prevailed with him to do it ; but 
finally he rather chose to urge the compliance of the 
Assembly ; and he entreated me to use my endeavours with 
them for that purpose, declaring that he would spare none 
of the King's troops for the defence of our frontiers, and 
that, if we did not continue to provide for that defence 
ourselves, they must remain exposed to the enemy. 

I acquainted the House with what had passed, and — pre- 
senting them with a set of resolutions I had drawn up, 
declaring our rights, that we did not reliquish our claim to 
those rights, but only suspended the exercise of them on this 
occasion thi'ough force, against which we protested — they at 
length agreed to drop that bill, and frame another conform- 
able to the Proprietary instructions. This of course the 
Govei-nor passed, and I was then at Hberty to proceed on 
my voyage. But in the meantime the packet had saUed 
with my sea-stores, which was some loss to me, and my 
only recompense was his Lordship's thanks for my service ; 
all the credit of obtaining the accommodation falling to his 
share. 

He set out for New York before me, and, as the time for 
despatching the imcket-boats was at his disposition, and 
there were two then remaining there, one of which, he said, 
was to sail very soon, I requested to know the precise time. 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 185 

that I miglit not miss her by any delay of mine. The 
answer was : " I have given out that she is to sail on 
Saturday next, hut I may let you know, entre nous, that if 
you are there by Monday morning, you will he in time, hut 
do not delay longer." By some accidental hindrance at a 
ferry, it was Monday noon before I arrived, and I was much 
afraid she might have sailed, as the wind was fair ; but I 
was soon made easy by the information that she was stiU in 
the harbour, and would not move till the next day. One 
would imagine that I was now on the very point of de- 
parting for Europe. I thought so ; but I was not then so 
well acquainted with his Lordship's character, of which 
indecision was one of the strongest featm-es. I shall give 
some instances. It was about the beginning of April that 
I came to New York, and I think it was near the end of 
June before we sailed. There were then two of the packet- 
boats, which had been long in readiness, but were detained 
for the General's letters, which were always to be ready 
to-morrow. Another packet arrived ; she too was detained ; 
and, before we sailed, a fourth was expected. Ours was the 
first to be despatched, as having been there longest. Pas- 
sengers were engaged for all, and some extremely impatient 
to be gone, and the merchants uneasy about their letters, 
and for the orders they had given for insurance (it being 
war time), and for autumnal goods. But their anxiety 
availed nothing. His Lordship's letters were not ready, 
and yet whoever waited on him, found him always at 
his desk, pen in hand, and concluded he must needs write 
abundantly. 

Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I found 
in his antechamber one Innis, a messenger of Philadelphia, 
who had come thence express, with a packet from Governor 
Denny for the General. He delivered to me some letters 
from my friends there, which occasioned my inquiiing: 



186 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

when he was to return, and where he lodged, that I might 
send some letters by him. He told me he was ordered to 
call to-morrow at nine for the General's answer to the 
Governor, and should set off immediately. I put my letters 
into his hands the same day. A fortnight after I met him 
again in the same place. " So, you are soon returned, 
Iimis 'i " " Returned ! no, I am not gone yet." " How 
80 P " " I have called here this and every morning these 
two weeks past for his Lordship's letters, and they are not 
yet ready." " Is it possible, when he is so great a writer? 
for I see him constantly at his escritoire." "Yes," said 
Innis, "but he is like 8t. George on the signs, alwayn on 
horseback, and never rides on." This observation of the 
messenger was, it seems, well founded ; for, when in 
England, I understood that jNIr. Pitt, afterwards Lord 
Chatham, gave it as one reason for removing this general, 
and sending Generals Amherst and Wolfe, that the 
minister never heard from hi.u, and could not know what he 
was doing. 

In this daily expectation of sailing, and all the three 
packets going down to Sandy Hook, to join the fleet there, 
the passengers thought it best to be on board, lest by a 
sudden order the ships should sail, and they be left behind. 
There, if I remember, we were about six weeks, consuming 
our sea-stores, and obliged to procure more. At length the 
fleet sailed, the General and all his army on board, bound to 
Louisbouig, with intent to besiege and take that fortress : 
and all the packet-boats in company were ordered to attend 
the General's ship, ready to receive his despatches when 
they should be ready. We were out five days before we 
got a letter with leave to part, and then our ship quitted the 
fleet and steered for England. The other two packets he 
still detained, carried them with him to Halifax, where he 
staved some time to exercise the men in sham attacks upon 



BENJAMIN FUANKTJN. 187 

sham forts, then altered his mind as to besieging Louis- 
bo lug, and returned to New York, with all his troops, 
together with the two packets above mentioned, and all 
their passengers! During his absence the French and 
savages had taken Fort George, on the frontier of that pro- 
vince, and the Indians had massacred many of the garrison 
after capitulation. 

On the whole, I wondered much how such a man came 
to be intrusted with so important a business, as the conduct 
of a great army ; but, having since seen more of the great 
world, and the means of obtaining, and motives for giving, 
places and employments, my wonder is diminished. General 
Shirley, on whom the command of the army devolved upon 
the death of Braddock, would, in my opinion, if continued 
in place, have made a much better campaign than that of 
Loudoun in 1756, which was frivolous, expensive, and dis- 
gi'aceful to our nation beyond conception. For though 
Shirley was not bred a soldier, he was sensible and sagacious 
in himself, and attentive to good advice fi-om others, 
capable of forming judicious plans, and quick and active in 
carrying them into execution. Loudoun, instead of de- 
fending the colonies with his great amiy, left them totally 
exposed, while he paraded idly at Halifax, by which means 
Fort George was lost; besides, he deranged all our 
mercantile operations, and distressed our trade, by a long 
embargo on the exportation of provisions, on pretence of 
keeping supplies from being obtained by the enemy, but in 
reality foi- beating down their price in favour of the con- 
tractors, in whose profits it was said, perhaps from suspicion 
only, he had a share ; and, when at length the embargo was 
taken off, neglecting to send notice of it to Charleston, 
where the Carolina fleet was detained near three months, and 
whereby their bottoms were so much damaged by the worm, 
that a great part of them foundered in their passage home. 



188 BENJAMIN FRANKXIN. 

Shirley was, I believe, sincerely glad of being relieved 
from so bui'densome a charge, as the conduct of an army 
must be to a man unacquainted with military business. I 
was at the entertainment given by the city of New York to 
Lord Loudoim, on his taking upon him the command. 
Shirley, though thereby superseded, was present also. 
There was a great company of officers, citizens, and 
strangers, and, some chaii-s ha\-ing been borrowed in the 
neighbourhood, there was one among them very low, which 
fell to the lot of Mi-. Shirley. I sat by him, and perceiving 
it, I said, "They have given you a very low seat." "No 
matter, Mr. Franklin,'' said he, "I find a low seat the 



While I was, as before mentioned, detained at New York, 
I received all the accounts of the provisions, &c., that I had 
furnished to Braddock, some of which accounts could not 
sooner be obtained from the different persons I had employed 
to assist in the business. I presented them to Lord Loudoun, 
desiring to be paid the balance. He caused them to be 
examined by the proper officer, who, after comparing c^-ery 
article with its voucher, certified them to be right ; and his 
Lordship promised to give me an order on the paymaster for 
the balance duo to me. This was, however, put off from 
time to time ; and, though I called often for it by appoint- 
ment, I did not get it. At length, just before my de- 
parture, he told me he had, on better consideration, 
concluded not to mix his accounts with those of his prede- 
cessors. "And you," said he, "when in England, have 
only to exhibit your accoimts to the treasury, and you will 
be paid immediately." 

I mentioned, but without effect, a great and unexpected 
expense I had been put to by being detained so long at 
New York, as a reason for my desiring to be presently paid ; 
and, on my observing that it was not right I should be put 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 189 

to any further trouble or delay in obtaining the money I 
had advanced, as I charged no commission for my service, 
" Oh," said he, " you must not think of persuading us that 
you are no gainer ; we understand better those matters, and 
know that every one concerned in supplying the army finds 
means, in the doing it, to fill his own pockets." I assured 
him that was not ray case, and that I had not pocketed a 
farthing; but he appeared clearly not to believe me; and, 
indeed, I afterwards learned that immense fortunes are 
often made in such employments. As to my balance, I am 
not paid it to this day ; of which more hereafter. 

Our captain of the packet boasted much, before we sailed, 
of the swiftness of his ship ; unfortunately, when we came 
to sea, she proved the dullest of ninety-six sail, to his no 
small mortification. After many conjectures respecting the 
cause, when we were near another snip, almost as dull as 
oui's, which, however, gained upon us, the captain ordered 
all hands to come aft and stand as near the ensign staff as 
possible. We were, passengers included, about forty 
persons. \Vhile we stood there the ship mended her pace, 
and soon left her neighbour far behind, which proved clearly 
what our captain suspected, that she was loaded too much by 
the head. The casks of water, it seems, had been all placed 
forward ; these he therefore ordered to be moved further 
aft, on which the ship recovered her character, and proA^ed 
the best sailer in the fleet. 

The foregoing fact I give for the sake of the following 
observation. It has been remarked, as an imperfection in 
the art of ship-building, that it can never be known till she 
is tried, whether a new ship will, or will not, be a good 
sailer ; for that the model of a good sailing-ship has been 
exactly followed in a new one, which has been proved on the 
contrary remarkably dull. I apprehend that this may 
partly be occasioned bv the different opinions of seamen 



190 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

respecting the modes of loading, rigging, and sailing of a 
ship ; each has his method ; and the same vessel, laden by 
the method and orders of one captain, shall sail worse than 
when by the orders of another. Besides, it scarce ever 
happens that a ship is formed, fitted for the sea, and sailed 
by the same person. One man builds the hull, another rigs 
her, a third loads and sails her. No one of these has the 
advantage of knowing all the ideas and experience of the 
others, and, therefore, cannot draw just conclusions from a 
combination of the whole. 

Even in the simple operation of sailing when at sea I have 
often observed different judgments in the officers who com- 
manded the successive watches, the wind being the same. 
One would have the sails trimmed sharper or flatter than 
another, so that they seemed to have no certain rule to 
govern by. Yet I think a set of experiments might be 
instituted, first, to determine the most proper form of the 
hull for swift sailing; next, the best dimensions and most 
proper place for the masts ; then the form and quantity of 
sails, and their position, as the winds may be ; and lastly, 
the disposition of the lading. This is an age of experiments, 
and I think a set accurately made and combined would be 
of great use. 

We were several times chased in our passage, but out- 
sailed everything ; and in thirty days had soundings. We 
had a good observation, and the captaiu judged himself so 
near our port, Falmouth, that, if we made a good run in the 
night, we might be off the mouth of that harbour in the 
morning ; and by running in the night might escape the 
notice of the enemy's privateers, who often cruised near the 
entrance of the Channel. According!}^ all the sail was set 
that we could possibly carry, and the wind being very fresh 
and fair, we stood right before it, and made great way. 
Thfi ''aptain, after his observation, shaped his covirse, as he 



BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 191 

thouiyht, so as to pass wide of the Scilly Rocks ; but it 
seems there is sometimes a strong current setting up St. 
George's Channel, which formerly caused the loss of Sir 
Cloudesley Shovel's squadron, in 1707. This was probably 
also the cause of what happened to us. 

We had a watchman placed in the bow, to whom they 
often called, " Look well out before there .•" and he as often 
answered " Ay, Ay ; " but perhaps had his eyes shut, and 
was'half asleep at the time ; they sometimes answering, as 
is said, mechanically : for he did not see a light just before 
us, which had been hid by the studding-sails from the man 
at the helm, and from the rest of the watch, but by an ac- 
cidental yaw of the ship was discovered, and occasioned 
a great alarm, we being very near it ; the light appearing 
to me as large as a cart-wheel. It was midnight, and our 
captain fast asleep ; but Captain Kennedy, jumping upon 
deck, and seeing the danger, ordered the ship to wear round, 
all sails standing ; an operation dangerous to the masts, but 
it carried ns clear, and we avoided shipwreck, for we were 
running fast on the rocks, on which the light was erected. 
This deliverance impressed me strongly with the utility of 
lighthouses, and made me resolve to encourage the building 
some of them in America, if I should live to return thither. 

In the morning it was found by the soundings that we 
were near our port, but a thick fog hid the land from our 
sight. About nine o'clock the fog began to rise, and 
seemed to be lifted up from the water lilce the curtain of a 
theatre, discovering underneath the town of Falmouth, the 
vessels in the harbour, and the fields that surround it. 
This was a pleasing spectacle to those, who had been long 
without any other prospect than the uniform view of a va- 
cant ocean, and it gave us the more pleasure, as we were 
now free from the anxieties which had arisen.* 

*Inaletter from Dr. Franklin to his wife, dated at Falmouth 



102 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 

I set out immediately, with my sou, for London, and we 
only stopped a little by the way to view Stonehenge on 
Salisbury Plain, and Lord Pembroke's house and gardens, 
with the very curious antiquities, at Wilton. We arrived 
in London, the 27th of July, 1757. 

the 17th of July, 1757, after giving her a similar account of his 
voyage, escape, and landing, he adds; " The bell ringing for church 
we went thither immediately, and, with hearts full of gratitude, re- 
turned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received. 
Were I a Eoman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow 
to huild a chapel to some saint ; but as I am not, if I iwere to vow 
at aU. it should be to build a lighth(yuse."—W. T. F. 



THE END. 



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